Flash Fiction

Saturday Short: Training Day

The following is flash fiction. Check out my other Saturday Shorts here.

Training Day

Fresh air and midday sun (through glass) taunted lungs, and the mothers and fathers, settled and unsettled; the heavy eye balls; the sleepers in the stalls—all of us—sorted and slightly rocking. Our shoes and briefcases brimmed the aisles, and our mouths coughed. Blind but secure, the train rattled, and what could we do but wait. Care for a cup of tea? Anything. Just bring me anything.

Outside the corn was dead and dry. A man sat in the window seat and was careless to view any of it (us, sanctioned together by wretched fate), staring at his shoes, considering maybe, the asphalt that marked them. “You look familiar” I finally admitted as a gesture.

The musician began. He, like all else, assumed his story was worth telling, and he spoke, and I thought about the birds: free, hungry, singing, and why fly next to trains?

“—not as easy as you think, you know.” Around my age but much richer, he hated his life as much as I hated mine. I bought a few of his records, a decade ago, and once I shook his hand in a parking lot before a gig. He was an asshole.

“Why not quit?” I keep him busy, like a four-year old with a new toy. And I wonder off: free, hungry, singing.

“There’s no career fair for me. No running away. Like a monkey I’m expected…”

If listening is a skill, we must all get it wrong. The man spoke, and I couldn’t care, and when I spoke he didn’t care. Where you out of? he’d say, shortly shifting his attention a couple rows down to a partially unbuttoned blouse on an attendant who bent forward for a piece of trash. (more…)

Short Story: Jake’s Jacket

The water’s just too damn cold.

Jake stood on the shore of California’s blue expanse, examining its horizon, noting the abnormalities under it. The ocean seemed empty to Jake. Sure, there was life teeming underneath, but nothing above he could see. The waves tumbled; the sea foam, in clockwork, came and went—hugging Jakes’s ankles, offering shallow solace.

Born on a farm in Pennsylvania, standing now, ankle deep, at the edge of existence. How did I—

“Why don’t you come back in?” Michael’s voice stole Jake away from his thoughts. He reached out his hand, “Let’s talk.” Michael’s body, not yet in the water but just out of grasp of the ocean’s reaching, rippling fingers, awaited response.

A black dot broke the surface in the closest series of waves.

“There!” pointed Jake, his arm outstretched, “Do you see it?” He laughed. A black seal broke the surface twenty yards or so from where they stood. “He’s come to watch me die,” Jake turned around and met Michael’s stare, offering a deflated grin,  “and you too?”

“Come on out.”

“DON’T!” Jake yelled, closing his eyes and breathing heavily. “NO!” He began to scream. Michael shot his hands in the air.

“Nothing in my hands.” Michael signaled, “Nothing in my hands.”

– – –

Inching slowly, ever so slowly, Michael approached Jake. Cold seeped in through Michael’s shoes and bit his skin. Jake had since opened his eyes and was reexamining the water. Finally, the two stood side-by-side; Jakes’s explosive vest was visible to Michael for the first time.

“Every inch you move is another towards death, my friend.”

“There’s no gun…”

“… so its been since birth.”

Michael closed his eyes in defeat.

The seal again broke the surface and Jake smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”

picstitch

A short story exercise, 300 words or less. My first in a while. Thoughts?

Short Story: The Cafe Throne

Coffee

When I visit the cafe, I change seats about three or four times before I settle. It’s no science. I’m not a creep or anything. I just like my space. I like my spot—the corner window with the round table.

The workers here probably think I have OCD; but then again, they’re judgmental.

The coffee is how much?

Every morning I have to wait on this guy, he likes the corner window seat too. It’s the same guy every day. I imagine him outside, waiting in the cold, sprinting as soon as they open the door. You can’t blame him, it’s the best spot in the house. The lazy squatter watches the sunrise and the fog burn off both sides of the highway. By the time he gives up the seat, the sun blares in my eyes and I’m left with a lingering smell of his breakfast veggie-wrap.

That’s alright. I grab my coffee, sit, and wait. It’s okay here, the coffee that is. You wouldn’t catch me handing out any awards. They brew it hot enough, I guess. The food does make me sick and good thing, it’s expensive.

The coffee is how much? 

I’m close to home when I come here. I’d otherwise exist, every morning, with people who know how to appreciate a level table. Here, they bob up and down like a child’s hand in a classroom—can I go to the bathroom? You do all this work, jumping from table to table, getting closer and closer to that prized spot, that seat of accolade, the damn window corner cafe throne, and what’s that? Oh, it wobbles.

The coffee is how much? 

Thirty years I spent climbing the ladder. I’m not talking corporate ladder, I mean an actual ladder. Up and down every day. Up and down, up and down. Painting, cleaning, watching.

I’m tired of the up and down.