Category: Flash Fiction

The Fitter Family Contest

By Anna Tatelman

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The nurse squeezes a rubber ball that makes the strap around Raymond’s arm tighten more and more. It really hurts. Raymond pushes his lips together so he won’t complain, because complaining is bad heredity. Mother told him that this morning when he complained about the Brilliantine she put in his hair. The gel still smells awful, like dead flowers and Father’s breath during good-night kiss. Mother is determined to win this Fitter Family contest, which is why she made Raymond wear the hair gel and why Raymond must not complain.  Mother thinks they lost the competition last year because of Aunt Julie, who is what Mother calls a broad, although she won’t tell Raymond what that means. 

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Broken

By Massimo Sartor

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It looked like large black bird with broken wings. Jeremy kicked it as it lay motionless in the puddle as we stood under a storefront awning waiting for a bus. Ripples puckered out from it. He reached down to pick it up.

“Jeremy, no,” I said, admonishing him as if he were a dog picking up a stick. “It’s dirty,” I added, as way of explanation. He was four. The world was still a mystery to him and these weekly visits to his mom were just a ritual. A tucked in shirt. Sitting at the back of the bus. The gift shop. Ice cream.

“Um-bella,” he said, as I crouched down to get a closer look. He was right. It was a dilapidated umbrella. Mangled from a gust of wind and hastily discarded. I picked it up and tried to open it. The tracking device that allowed the umbrella to glide open was jammed. I shook the umbrella. Jeremy stepped back and covered his face from the sprayed rain droplets. He giggled to himself.

“Stop. Da. Stop.”

I tried to open the damaged umbrella once more. It flapped wildly in my hands as uncooperative as a tethered bird trying to take flight.

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Something in the Way

By Nicholas Olson

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It started with you knocking on the door. Steam filling up the mirror, the air. Stale. Collecting the suds under my armpits and letting the hot water sear my skin. Telling you I’m in here. Taking a shower. I hadn’t locked the door, hadn’t thought to, rubbing shampoo in and whistling Something in the Way. You opened the door, slipped your hand in. Flipped the light off and on, off and on. Epileptic flashes as I reached for the bar of soap, told you to cut it out. You left the light off. I heard the door shut behind you, and the way the faint light filtered in, through the shower curtain, soap in my eyes so I couldn’t see it all the way.…

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The First Time Once

By Rachel Linn

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The living room is a dangerous place when you are married to the author. The further into the night we descend, the more danger looms.  

After my infant son falls asleep I nuzzle into the far side of the couch. Within my lamp-lit kingdom, I wrestle a tower of books on trauma studies that circles around the vortex of loss, but never seems to lose any of its own girth. The companion mound of finished reads never seems to grow. I fall into the sonic rhythm of the mechanical keyboard’s click as my husband– the author– works in a feverish trance across the room. Gaming headphones pipe nondescript medieval music through his brain. The almost-music coupled with the dim light lulls me to false complacency, and I forget the quiet battle he’s fought every evening for three months at his keyboard.          

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How to Break a Young Man’s Heart

By Shelley Schenk

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To smash the tender heart of a young man, first make him yours on the rebound. The day after easy going Mark, the good kisser, breaks things off over the telephone for no apparent reason, deliberately wait outside Room 302, where David has trigonometry, and smile at him. David will be flattered and do the things a good boyfriend does. He’ll remember days of importance, your birthday, your three month anniversary. He’ll help you bake the cakes.

The day President Reagan is shot go to his house after school and stare at the flashing television. Even at sixteen, you’re enraged at this President. In your cramped neighborhood on the southwest side of Detroit, where people work like oxen and struggle to pay bills and taxes, you feel his hostility. He implies that your people are lazy and looking for handouts, even though the money he presides over is yours.

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