JULES VERNE DIDN’T KNOW

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Three sets of escalators for nine flights from the subway tracks up to the surface. Jules Verne didn’t know you could actually go this deep. They say the tracks are at a level below that of a river – a river no one recalls any longer, it too flowing underneath the city. So cell phones have no reception, and as the flow of passengers gushed out at rush hour slides up in single file – The Train Terminates Here; The Train Terminates H… – the beeps of messages and missed calls come back to life. Some start at the seventh flight up, some at the eighth; so the silence in the bowels of the earth strikes with no awe anymore. And the owners of older models shake their phones convulsively to get them to pick any signal back at all.

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I TURNED THE HEAT OFF

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I turned the heat off. For two days, in February. The weather’s deceived me, though. It’s gotten cold again. Now it’s one of those days when you’d love to be, or you’re reminded of, a house in the country surrounded by hills, a fire crackling in the big living room, rectangular windows to the outside world, biting cold, but cloudless light-blue, when you feel nature knows best, she wouldn’t be taken in by a few warm sun rays. At this latitude! We may have created the concept, but nature knows what it really means. So the heat goes back on, like winter in reverse, and it would be lovely to be carried around the old pipes in the walls, like warm water from the boiler to these white radiators far from the window, as the low cut of the winter sun reaches them, too. They are dusty!

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2019/02/25/fowc-with-fandango-reverse/

#FOWC

IT’S EASY TO SMILE AT THE MOON

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It’s easy to smile at the Moon, harder at the Sun. The reflected light of the former gently hits all kinds of eyes, stars dotting the dark expanse all around it, or clouds passing through, their real color unknown to our spectrum. The Sun makes it all much harder, your face ends up all scrunched up, eyes squinting, as if something else was there to decipher. Is Love a Sun or a Moon? What do I want Love to be in the end? Galehot brought Lancelot and Guinevere together and he thought he was doing his friend a good turn, but they never should have kissed, and those old novels are mostly incoherent in their development from beginning till end. Then while Streisand defended her right to be a woman in love, it was over timeless songs in a castle in southern France, there to recreate the Middle Ages, without the wild, without the irrational, for dazed travellers. Time never cuts it quite right, does it?, and the longer a kiss is held, the more it seems to us to be of any worth. But if eternity is in the moment, as we’re gratified to quote from Spinoza, then duration shouldn’t matter. It’s a trap we like, apparently.

OUT TO DRY (CORA)

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Warm and cold weather she recognized by the time it took her laundry to dry, although she could never tell exactly when each item of clothing was dry; it had been pointed out to her that something can be humid but not necessarily wet – (“Never trust linen!”) – so she needed another hand to check what her touch told her, which was the light-hearted excuse for the forthcoming marriage, which is how neighbors and passers-by found out her friend had passed, clothes out in the wind for days on end, at the stretch of new balances, just to be sure.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/12/14/december-13-flash-fiction-challenge/

OUT WITH THE CLASS

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“This is obviously not art.” “Because they changed Best of Luck with Best of F…?” “Please!” He was making another point. The giggles died down, outside the station, writings everywhere; they thought those fonts were not available in Microsoft Word. It was also the, well, artistic process: at night, on the sly, “how can they see the colors if it’s dark?”, “it’s not legal, you know.” Surely writing that This City is Anti-fascist & Always Will Be was a cliché, but the unassuming flower next to it, thin black stem, red petals starting to wither, welled up an inexplicable tear.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/12/06/december-6-flash-fiction-challenge/

AT THIS HOUR OF EVE

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The world doesn’t have time for this street dancer, his white undershirt and black pants, his slowed-down watery Black Swan, his crystal ball rolling over arms, shoulders, hands, fingers – it never falls! There’s so much else, after all. Like people who turn into fashionable streets or buildings as if they lived there, striving to give that casual impression to those looking. And there are many. Being surprised, deceived possibly, but always to be kept in the dark about the person they glimpsed at rushing by being or not somebody important. Or, some day, a star. Étoiles, they call them.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/11/29/november-29-flash-fiction-challenge/

THE TOWNS ALONG THE COAST

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At the station early in the morning the first train gets in at 5. No one gets off. The train’s left the Central Station an hour before to reach the end of the coastal line so people can get on. Empty to full, passengers will then alight in the main town, or at some other stop,  to work in the factories along the coast. The line, a feat of engineering constantly monitored, gives its best at 4:35 and 4:40 and a little before 5 when dawn breaks the night and the red lights of the big power poles cease to flicker in the dark. The train driver is the lone custodian of these very early contrasts – because you need the empty 4am to have the full 5am train. The towns along the coast are not so big. There’s a saying, everybody knows it, when a thing or a person is like “the 4am train,” it means that you take this thing or person for granted.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/29/fowc-with-fandango-contrast/

ARITHMETICAL MELODY

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It makes sense to hear them so early in the day. The Bible folks and their Jehovah counterpoints will be standing in the spot later – their god can wait till about 10:30. But these young guys out to convert other young guys to the infallibility of a new memory technique to boost their university career by simply learning how to memorize information must be out now. It’s quite a feat already that they can reel off a string of 25 numbers after looking at it for only 5 seconds – but this early in the morning they must be pretty sharp! “No, it’s this new technique! Come to the seminar…” The rest is a quiet chorus, the rush of people on and off transport too; heels rap on the floor – 25, 4 – turnstiles swing into place – 8, 32 – cups and saucers are placed on various counters – 15, 63, 9 – in the crescendo of city life outside.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/23/fowc-with-fandango-melody/

SCRAPS (CHER IS IN VEGAS)

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Cher is in Vegas and you can fly out to see her. And talk to her backstage. The revolving billboard slides in some nasal spray, get rid of congestion and back to your day; no day seems worth it unless you fly out and see her – Cher, again – light-blue, young, divine. She slides back. Then there are other events in this town and those preferred flyers or paper of cheaper quality, too light not to swirl around in the chilly wind. It’ll be daybreak before Personnel will clean up the crumpled mass of fantastic evenings not to be missed.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/11/15/november-15-flash-fiction-challenge/

FROZEN, READY-MADE

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When he slowed down the bus again after leaving because she’d started to run for it, she really went for it and he stopped the bus. He the driver, she a woman, who finally got on from the back doors. And the bus wasn’t crowded but echoes of thank you’s started at the back and elbowed their way to the front till she could tell him in person, everyone knows what it’s like to wait at the stop for the next one, “and the next one never comes!”, traffic, rush hour, “why is there no subway in this area?”, although, according to the law, you should not speak to the driver at any time, this will distract them while performing their duty. She, the woman, is still gasping for breath, and takes a sip of bottled water. Those who are interested can see she’s been grocery shopping and has some frozen, ready-made meal in there as well.