Stella lurched over the last hill, clutching at the front of her dress in agony. She reached the stone domicile just in time; she could feel the bairn being coaxed out by the cool fingers of mist riding low in the air. She ducked inside. Into the black heart of a home, dug into a green hill.
She left her body on the floor, momentarily, when the Tacksman’s bairn finally shuddered out with a single prolonged wail. His face was sweet and red, still slick with her oils. She studied its shape for traces of the Tacksman- she could find none. He was hers alone, at least in possibility; it was possible that the Tacksman’s imprint had stopped short of her son. Given time, the boy could grow to resemble the man that he would call his father. Or else, the scarring on her heart could heal… but over time, men only grow into their monsters.
In fifth grade, our class chewed up and spit out a revolving door of music teachers. Our first victim was Mr. Alexander, a tall Asian man with ruthless expectations. He demanded “tone, tone, semi-tone” until we could hear it no more and locked him in the vault, which happened to be the music office. He got his revenge by leaving kids at the side of the road on a field trip, but by then it was too late- Mrs. Hyde had arrived.
Mrs. Hyde/Jekyll stamped her heels with such enthusiasm that eventually, one flew off and struck a student in the eye. Given our campaign (in progress) to record (in secret) her violence to use against her, the principal had no choice but to introduce Mr. Gilbert.
The old man disappeared on an alleged cross-country motorcycle trip. This, of course, when we had just begun to like him.
She held out a heart like a cold beet,
skinned & pickled, with two tiny hands
at the end of stems which held a little heart also,
with tiny hands which held another
on and on
through the blunt scene
of hearts hurled blindly down halls, against
rising water, against nail-dotted walls
against computer screens, against chests
or slashed up,
against heaving, sweat-slick breasts…
we experienced a love that was new
there was at least that, if not the rest.
Thub-thub, the beet droned and its stammering-
it moved through us like hammering
as our animals lay down beside us, in gardens
or in grass- in a kind of memorial
we imagined their death
in terms of sacrifice & lest we forget
when we should have seen it coming,
seen them faltering & starving
neatly dropping at our feet while we ran on
not noticing their hearts were beat-
we had been running all this time without them.
Behind a sinking, healthy & back-lit sun
A sort-of-game played with your feelings
That is why you are this person.
One team wore white, like brides & napkins
Their lips shimmered dully
an aversion to thorns.
A second team is everything the first team could only hope to be
The team loves you, and their hearts match their red socks
and the way they held you
and still getting dust in your eyes
the sand kicked up to last, and last, and last…
You can’t imagine how they loved you into becoming this person.
Your split-lip self was a consolation prize
& You were not supposed to go down like that
& You are turning to face me in the library
And you do not show your face
it clings fast to your skull
your hand curling out of a cloak
into begging & being
the bloated fingers
of a man
Hooray! I’m the Third Runner Up. Thanks to the folks at Flash Friday who keep the contest running week after week. Fun little writing community with a lot of talent to go around. Pleased to be a participant.
To all the doubters who think flash fiction is “nice” because people just don’t have time to write or read a proper story? I dare you to read even ONE story from this past week’s contest and claim that again with a straight face and/or without lightning crashing on your head. These writers are good.
As for you dear crazy flash fiction people! You clearly, like me, have some kind of serious flash fiction obsession problem. I couldn’t be more grateful to you for commiserating with your fellow Flash! Friday addicts here week after week. Thank you for joining us! Come back Wednesday for the champ’s interview; come back Friday to do your awesome thang all over again.
Judge Craig Anderson(you should see the post-battle mess of his poor brain!) says:Who knew that a simple stone shack on a deserted island could house so many…