FLAKING OFF THE WALLS

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A gust of warm wind rushed in with the man from the foyer. The chandeliers rattled; dust whirled down onto the carpeted floors.

“Lily and Becky?” he asked.

“My sister couldn’t…”

“Yes, it’s you and your sister. The gig’s outside the castle. 6am to 8pm.”

Lily nodded.

In the abandoned megaphone-shaped auditorium, ghosts of opera-goers gazed at their own paint flaking off the walls. Mr. Reynolds excused himself with his best beggars-can’t-be-choosers look; rushed backstage echoing orders. Now a car horn reached Lily’s ears from outside. Becky, of course, double-parked! By the entrée des artistes – the Irony of it.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/04/11/april-11-flash-fiction-challenge/

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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/

DUMBFOUNDED DUPLICATION

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“It’s in that drawer.” He marched to it confidently. “Found it?” He opened the drawer but found various types of tools, of which, let’s see… pliers, a kind of screwdriver… this looks like a hammer with a double blade at one end, it has to have a name, and, hold on, two more. So one is a chisel, the other is not. They do look similar, though. Small chisel and big chisel? “I didn’t know which size you preferred.” She grabbed the small one. “You do know that’s not really a chisel?” “You mean the big one?” “Yes.” “Yes.”

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/03/14/march-14-flash-fiction-challenge/

MISTY PAVEMENT

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I found myself looking suspicious. I was walking to prove that idea of the God of Walkers about whom Bruce Chatwin wrote. I lingered, unintentionally, in the square outside the Concert Hall. It was night, orange street lamps on misty pavement, curtain time for multiple shows. When the three or four audiences came out I stood looking, no phone, no book, no headphones. Two night guards hired by the musical premises looked in my direction, and I pretended to be looking for someone in the crowd. Cars started to leave and their exhaust fumes made someone cough. I coughed, too. The person I was looking for never came. Lack of imagination surely. If just being there could not be substantiated, I could have at least faked a violinist, “Where do the artists come out?”, and thus given myself purpose. Perhaps you can prove certain ideas only in the absence of other human beings.

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/

GREENER THAN GREEN

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She liked the smell of eggs in the morning, not their taste; so he had them and she was happy. The steaming cup of coffee was for her; he preferred tea. Looking out, she had to admit that the pomegranate tree was the most beautiful tree in the world, its green greener than green, and the shape of its leaves so delicate. She also prayed, without religion, that if routine ever crept in, then lightning could strike her – under her favorite tree! – although, wait, lying there on the grass, a branch of the magnolia would intrude un-aesthetically on the shade of the pomegranate, and she liked the magnolia but that branch was so irregular! She got up and made for the garden. “You’re not making much sense…” And she stopped, wondering if the voice she’d heard was his, or the sweet abstract buzz of those who have gone but can still communicate.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/10/24/fowc-with-fandango-abstract/

#FOWC

THE BAT FIGHT

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He got a punch in the face because he said to his friend he was a bat, at recession in the courtyard. The animal impulse in this (un)usual kid fight, the species gathered round to witness. And now mom is trying her best in discipline-&-living-together parenting, although, well, it’s funny because “why a bat?”, the 5-year-old replies that she used it, to dad, once. “Really?” Surely no adult would… “Yes, in the car, to the airport.” “Sweety, I probably said rat.” “Daddy a rat?” “It’s a long story. Forget it.” Pause. “Rats are cute. Jamie is a bat.”

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/04/13/april-12-flash-fiction-challenge/

BACK TO THE COUNTRY – THE HERO

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It was time to think about getting the firewood for the winter, for the stove in the basement. Countrylike preoccupations. And tribulations, too. We were talking about it out in the back, dad sitting on the fence, he says grandpa’s got so much wood up in the old henhouse he will never use, not because he’s going on ninety-two, but because he doesn’t use his fireplace anymore on wintry Sunday afternoons, too much of a hassle, although last year we spent quite a sum to get the chimney all clean – the chimney sweepers came! – the chimney’s old, all bricks, you would need steel now, but they cleaned it anyway, grandpa won’t use it, so should we get all that wood, old and half of it rotten as it’s been out there for ages in that dilapidated shed, or just get it new? He says he’s done a few trips with his wheelbarrow up and down the hill from our house to grandpa’s: Is it worth it? “Honestly, it would cost me more to get the wood down here than get new wood” – sometimes it’s all about the cost of things with him.

And then the farmers, two brothers, who live at the very top of the hill and who, among other farming jobs, go around chopping down trees into firewood, pass by on their way home and well, “what a coincidence! I was just talking about all this,” father says – I’m being pointed at! – and a series of nodding and weird sounds that are not really words, eh, huh, bah, what are we gonna do?, the decision is made on the spot to go see straightaway, hop on the truck, dad will go up pronto with the two of them, in hindsight not such a good idea, grandpa will be eating, he’s not one to be disturbed while eating …

So we’re awaiting now the return of the hero with the solution for the firewood. The two professional farmers will have the final word of course, one look at the big stack of old wood in the old shed and they can tell instinctively how long it’s been rotting there, heads shaking in dismay, to think that grandpa was a better farmer than they – the wood’s been here at least 10 years! eh, huh, bah – and it’s never been grandpa’s job really, never had a farm, worked in a factory in the city, always had a garden with vegetables and fruit, grandma was into the flowers, this being the division of labor in the country for the old school, all year round. The hero seems to be following in these old-fashioned steps, on sunny days of hobby-devoted afternoons, in his house without firewood, which runs on electrical heating, cutting-edge solar panels installed a few years ago. But he’s got it. The rural understanding that nothing, however old, can be thrown away – nothing!

Reposted for: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/11/20/fowc-with-fandango-shed/

AND THE WALLS ARE ONLY PIPES NOW

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You keep yourself to yourself. You have a selected number of friends you hang out with, but you keep your distance; you pay your monthly rent “in cash”;  you get a job which doesn’t require you to state where you live – you keep your old address.

In your building you have neighbors – you don’t know them, they don’t know you. You feel something creepily peculiar in the phrase “unburied, un-… what was it?, unknown”, like dying at sea and the big city is the big sea and you drown into it although you might like to drown somewhere else.

You say, “I want to swallow this big city. Not this big city to swallow me.”

Until the water pipes in your apartment break. Major work needs doing inside the walls.

And the walls are only pipes now. Whatever flows in every direction, it has to go through you.