FLASH FICTION: The Blue Night

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 “What are we going to do with him?”

*

I looked in my heart and heard a nightmare singing.

“Who are you?” I almost said but a voice said, “Mr. Gullifer.”

It was darkest in one corner of the room.

A man stepped out of the corner.

He got close to me.

He climbed onto the bed.

He opened his jaw wide and … bit down on my head.

I heard a crack.

I closed my eyes.

It was still a long time till morning.

*

“Lamotrigine three times a day, fluoxetine once. Risperidone—you can give it to him at night if he gets drowsy. If he starts vomiting, call me.”

*

Every night.

I tried not to look at the corner.

I looked.

There was a chair. Mr. Gullifer…

He stood up. His hat just about touched the ceiling.

One step.

Two.

He opened his jaw.

I closed my eyes.

He crawled on top of me.

He bit my lips shut.

He bit down hard.

I swallowed hard.

I cried.

No one heard me.

*

“What are we going to do?”

*

Mr. Gullifer was sitting on my chest. Digging his…

“Why do you like me?” he said.

I was too scared.

“Hey?”

He dug his fist into my heart.

“Hey?”

I wanted to cry.

I was too scared.

“Hey?”

I closed my eyes.

I had a lot of pain in my heart.

I closed my eyes tight.

*

“Doc?”

“Ma’am?”

“I’m eighty-four years old.”

“Mmm hmm.”

“I can’t live forever.”

“No.”

“Doc…”

“Yeah?”

“I’m wondering…

“Am I too old…

“Is it possible…

“Can I give Aiden my brain?

“Doc?

“Doc?”

*

I looked at the corner.

Mr. Gullifer…

He stood up. His hat touched the ceiling, this time.

One step.

I wanted—I didn’t stop looking.

Two steps.

Mr. Gullifer opened his jaw.

I swallowed the air. All of it.

I wanted to cry.

I didn’t.

I wanted to close my eyes, but… I kept looking.

When I looked at Mr. Gullifer’s face, it changed. It was—it didn’t look like anything. It looked like nothing. His hat was a shadow. It changed and changed. It kept changing.

He covered his face.

One step back. Two.

He sat back down. He closed his jaw.

I blew the air back into the room. All of it.

*

“We love you. We love you. We love you. We love you. We love you.”

*

I couldn’t sleep.

I looked at the corner.

Nothing.

I got out of bed.

I looked behind me.

I looked out the window.

The blue night was beautiful.

I looked down. I saw a painted cart with a horse hooked up to it. Mr. Gullifer was getting into the cart. He was sitting down.

He turned his head. He looked up at me. A long time.

There was a pain in my heart.

It went away.

Mr. Gullifer turned away.

Then he drove away.

                                                                                           

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FLASH FICTION: Eduardo

Blue Ocean Panorama

I was the only survivor of flight WC350.

The lady next to me on the plane had—I’m not sure. Her eyes watered constantly. They moved constantly, too.

“I was an English teacher in the 60s. I don’t remember all of my students, of course.”

“I remember Eduardo.”

“He was quiet. Not shy. He was melancholy. A melancholy child. Is there anything more thought-provoking?”

“Eduardo was a good student. A good boy. A nervous boy. I touched his shoulder—once.”

“He wouldn’t eat with anyone. He’d take his lunchbox … and stand in a corner of the room, facing the corner.”

“One day, I came up behind him. As he stood facing the corner. I didn’t want to startle him. I looked over his shoulder.”

“And he turned around. Eduardo…”

“His heart fell down. A jar fell down. And a spoon.”

“Paste. He’d been eating paste. He’d been given paste, to eat. In his lunchbox.”

Her eyes watered onto her lap.

“You look so much—you remind me of him. You have the same way about you. Something … melancholy.”

She leaned in. Tears dropped onto my shoulder.

“What’s troubling you?”

A propeller blew through one side of the plane and out the other.

I felt drunk.

*

The news explained everything. I watched it constantly, in the hospital.

The debris field was bigger than the Red Sea.

“How did it happen?”

“How did you survive?”

“How does it feel to be the only survivor?”

I was a celebrity. Finally.

It took them a month to find the pilot.

His name was Eduardo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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THANK-YOU: Free Story

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As a thank-you present for my loyal readers, here’s a never-before-published short story. It’s about writers … and the future. Click here to read or download.

                                                                 

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Buy him a coffee.

FLASH FICTION: Chez Franco

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“How’s the wine?”

“Tastes wonderful.”

“But does it taste expensive?

“It tastes older than you. You must know Franco pretty well.”

“You look beautiful. Really. It’s not just me. The guy by the window…”

“Frog Eyes?”

“He can’t take them off you.”

“I wish he would.”

“No worries. They’ll cook him up shortly.”

“So you’re a friend of Franco’s? I mean, to get a free bottle. You must be well-acquainted?”

“Not really. I’ve known him … twenty years.”

“Old friends?”

“I never could stand the man.”

“Does he know that?”

“I’m guessing he’s knowledgeable. With a forehead like that.”

“Then why the wine?”

“Madeline…”

“And why come here?

“You’re a beautiful woman.”

“Frog Eyes seems to think so.”

“Franco, too. He keeps looking at you.”

“He doesn’t.”

“If we’re not vigilant, a duel could break out any minute.”

That I’d pay to see.”

“Madeline?”

“Yes?”

I only noticed the masked man when he yelled something unintelligible. He pulled out a gun and…

Franco’s head exploded.

Then we were on the floor. Under the table. Madeline… I’m sure I looked just as terrified. I’m not sure who took whose hand. Who gripped harder, with every shot.

People falling. Tables. Shattering glass.

No words. No screams.

For a minute or an hour, we didn’t move.

When we crawled out…

Frog Eyes was lying in the middle of the room. In a puddle. Breathing hard.

No one else was breathing.

We knelt beside him. In the broken glass.

He was gasping.

We each took a hand. He squeezed them. I took Madeline’s.

Shots. Somewhere outside. Faint. Fainter.

Frog Eyes stopped squeezing.

One shot, far off.

Then it was quiet.

                                                                                                  

From The Big T, a flash fiction mini-collection. Order a copy.

FLASH FICTION: Paw-Paw

When Mom’s friend went to India, we looked after her eclectus Paw-Paw.

Mom put the cage in the living room so the bird could observe our dysfunction.

Dad tried coaxing Paw-Paw to talk. She still just squawked after a week but he didn’t give up. I’m not sure… I don’t remember him ever spending that much time with me.

Feeding Paw-Paw was my job. Pineapple, strawberries. Grapefruit she spat back out. We had that in common.

I hadn’t realized I could be nurturing.

One morning between bites of pineapple, Paw-Paw said, “I love you.”

I’d underestimated her.

Paw-Paw cocked her head. She looked at me like she expected a reply.

She’d overestimated me.

“I love you,” she said again.

My parents love me. They used to tell me. I have a good memory.

I don’t know why but I opened the cage and Paw-Paw flew around the living room, shitting everywhere and squawking.

When Mom came out of the kitchen with more fruit, she swore. Paw-Paw kept repeating “Shit.”

Mom grounded me for a week—a meaningless gesture.

After dinner, Dad went to the living room. Mom gave me sorbet and complained about her depression. “Life is medieval,” she said.

When I wheeled through the living room, after, Dad was feeding Paw-Paw. So I didn’t have to. I went into the elevator.

“I love you,” I heard him say, over and over, as the door closed.

FLASH FICTION: Two Hearts

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My mother and I were in Bristol, visiting someone. A cousin, or something, and her teenage daughter. We were having tea—like this. I would’ve been nine or ten.

Children did a lot of listening in those days. I was never very good at it. I’ve always felt that only interesting people should speak, though it’s the opposite of convention. I suppose I fidgeted too much or said something smart because Mother hissed in my ear: “Why don’t you go upstairs and say hello to Katherine?”

Children still did as they were told in those days. I was never very good at that, either. But this time, I listened. I suppose I was bored. I didn’t know who Katherine was and I didn’t ask.

The first room I went into was the master bedroom. There were clothes all over the floor. When the parlour had been so clean.

The second room was the teenage daughter’s. She had a lot of nice things. Fashionable clothes. There was quite a lot of makeup on the vanity. I put on a bit of coral lipstick and looked in the mirror. I’ve always liked that color.

The third room…

A girl lay asleep in bed. But she wasn’t asleep, no. Her eyes were open. She was staring straight up, at the ceiling.

There was a chair by the bed, so I sat in it. I was curious.

I looked at the girl. She was no bigger than a child of four or five, though she could’ve been my age—or older. Her wrists were like sticks.

As I watched her, she turned her face to me. Her cheek against the pillow. She looked just like a Victorian advertisement. She looked at me. And she said…

She said…

“Because I have two hearts … I am strange and sad to everyone.”

I took her hand. It was so small. I closed my fingers around it. Her skin. You could see every vein.

And I could feel them. PA-PUM … pa-pum. PA-PUM … pa-pum. PA-PUM … pa-pum. The two hearts. A stronger, and a weaker. Beating.

She didn’t say another word, the girl. She didn’t have to.

It’s strange, how something can affect you. For years, I thought about that girl. When I was about to enjoy something, perhaps something too nice, something improper, I’d think of her. An image of her, with her head against the pillow. And I’d set down the cake, or tell the young man no.

The girl. The two hearts. My moral companions.

Can I trouble you for another cup?

____________________________                                                             

Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

Buy him a coffee.