THREE PLASTIC BUCKETS

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They must both work downtown, but downtown is big. So the suburban rail carries them both in, briefcases and all. They must see a bit of the country in between the dark tunnels, which is “quite something” now that the sun rises early. Once off the train at the Northern Junction they go their separate ways. A have-a-good-day kiss never seemed so week-daily real amidst the morning rush, dusty litter swirling in the breeze and the three (red, blue and green) plastic buckets where the dripping water off the humid station walls sets a rhythm nobody pays attention to.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/03/21/march-21-flash-fiction-challenge/

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.

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.

OPENING NIGHT – I AM THE PASSENGER

An unusual post to thank all those who came out last night and participated in our first interactive and bilingual exhibit #I am the Passenger.

This imaginary trip through town couldn’t have been any better. Thanks.

The exhibit will run till November 17.

MISPLACED FAMILIARITY

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Suddenly at night they’re all lost and confused. Streets and stops in the light of day have a misplaced familiarity after it gets dark. It was blackout night, for their minds. “Oh, please, sorry, I forgot to call my stop, can you…?” The doors open for her, unlawfully but kind. Then we turn into a street and he needs to get off, presses the button, last minute, hurls himself onto the doors and calmly disappears along the sidewalk. Then there’s Fidgety, the seat too small, has three phones tucked in three pockets, jean jacket, sneakers and a cap. The fluorescent bar showing the stops is not working, will the driver please tell him where his stop is? He will. So he alights, checks his map on one phone, calls a friend on another and the third he lets ring twice before putting it on silent. The bus rides off and it’s a different kind of quiet.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/10/09/fowc-with-fandango-silent/

#FOWC

BLAME

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Because she was texting while riding the bus, nothing happened. But a woman was texting while riding her moped. We heard a thud at the back. The traffic light had gone red, but she must have been sending a message. All of a sudden, the windows still open, there’s smell of gas and we hear the engine of the little moped fuming along the bus. She stops at the driver’s window, “Really!” and blames him. She’s figured out no one has seen her texting because no one – who would? – looks behind the bus and not ahead. The driver’s amused by the little scene, he’s probably not heard the thud, and doesn’t wonder why his passengers got all curious – the next stop’s coming up and he’ll pull over, by a park stretched on the ragged outline of a small hill – and this is different anyway, angry riders usually roll their eyes to heaven if he does something they don’t like. This time she talked to him!