Flash Fiction: Synthesis

The word: nimble
The word count: 500 words

The artificial lung hung on the wall as it had for 265 days, or as long as Allison had been at her job, give or take a day. It wasn’t there to commemorate her promotion, however. It was there for its own reason that the brass hadn’t deemed mandatory for their subordinates to know. Not that it stopped the kind of frenetic gossip that took place around the water cooler from occurring. In fact, since Product Corp had been founded, there were no fewer than eight such water cooler environments per floor to encourage just that kind of frenetic gossip.

Allison didn’t really give the artificial lung the time of day. She was far too busy making life or death decisions, figuring out which swatch matched the wall color in the Fergusons’ summer home down at the Cape, for instance. Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Synthesis”


Flash Fiction: Greater Atlantic Switchboard

“Greater Atlantic Switchboard, this is Quinn,” proclaimed the slim girl behind the reception desk, headset protruding from her left ear, microphone poised at her lips.

“Hi Quinn!” the man on the other end of the line replied, rather loudly. “I’m calling to report otters building a dam across the road down Loving Lane, you know, where the Peavy Farm used to be?”

“Mr. Hanson?” she asked, adjusting her headset even though it was unnecessary.

“Yes, ma’am!” he screamed back at her. It was obvious he wasn’t wearing his hearing aids, and it wasn’t the first time he had barked at her, but Quinn still found it sad.

“Mr. Hanson, there are no otters building a dam across the road down Loving Lane,” she assured him, but the man’s mind was stuck on autopilot, as it always was.

“Damn straight they are,” he said, a rustling sound gaining momentum in the background.

“No, sir,” she tried again. “Otters don’t build dams, Mr. Hanson.”

“Well, tell that to these two who are damn sure building a dam across the road,” he replied, gruffly. “I can see them outside my window, having a grand old time. Someone’s going to have an accident.”

“Do you have your glasses on, sir?” she asked, trying hard to stand her ground.

“Well, no, but…” he began, immediately defensive.

It was her daily exercise in using kid gloves, humoring the old man without embarrassing him, which was a thin line indeed. Their call center was inundated with real emergencies from morning to night, so she couldn’t stay on with him forever. Some days he was convinced possums were playing dead in that selfsame road, others he would swear to an earthquake rocking the foundation of his home, so the story of otters wasn’t very unique as far as his tales went.

“Now, I’m not saying you’re seeing things, Mr. Hanson,” she cut in. “But we both know there were no possums that time, and there was no earthquake, so… can you at least entertain the possibility that there are no otters building a dam across Loving Lane?”

“Hell no,” he said. “They’re there, and if you don’t send someone out I will take care of them my damn self.”

“Sir, there is no need for that,” she quickly replied, knowing he meant to get his shotgun out of mothballs. The last time Ed Hanson pulled out that gun he shot up Millie Gray’s peach garden. There had been peach juice running down the road for several hours, and poor Millie didn’t sleep right for a week.

“Good,” he said, properly placated. “Tell them to hurry, because it looks like these otters are fixing to have relations right next to that dam, and hell if I’m going to sit here and watch otters have relations.”

He hung up with a great clattering, as he always did, leaving Quinn with the disgusting mental image of otters having sex in the road. She sighed and switched over to the next call.


From the Vault: Alone (from 2/11/09)

wpid-Photo-Editor-Plus-1365373280927.jpgI stoop to pick up my slippers from the now-faded carpet, worn down from my constant traversing back and forth, from the many miles I’ve walked to find my home when it was here all alone. I am treading water that has been trodden before by those much more worthy than myself, and yet I do not feel like a trespasser. On the contrary, I feel more like myself than I ever have before, conscious of the “me” in my dreams, conscious that the “me” I see when I’m looking for myself is no perfect reflection, but content to let it be.

My slippers now on my calloused feet, walking a straight path to the scene of my greatest triumph, and of my greatest tragedy, the bedroom that has lain empty for far too long. Sheets rumpled on the couch are testament to the sad state of things in the room that is usually reserved for sleep. That bed holds too many memories, too many reminders of a life gone horribly wrong. I stop in my steps, fuzzy slippers pausing in the way that has become all too familiar as of late. I cannot enter, I realize once more, as I stay rooted to the spot of my shame. My utter shame living in my only home.

But a house is not a home, and a bed does not make one safe. I tell myself this knowing that I will never truly believe it, nor will I ever gather the strength to finally leave. I pivot on my heel as smooth as an ice dancer performing a pirouette, and I turn on the TV to watch reality, sinking onto the couch amidst the tainted sheets, content to forget my troubles, losing them once more in comedic timing and laugh tracks. Losing myself once more to mediocrity and repression.

Alone. All alone.


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