This is the short fiction I submitted to the Women on Writing, 2022 Spring Flash Fiction Contest. There will be three winners, seven runner's up, and ten honorable mentions. The results of judging are expected to be arould 7 July. I'll post results on the Update page.


Page One

“I’ve heard plenty of stories. That’s anecdotal B.S. They mean nothing. I’m thinking now it’s more than just fashionable. It’s more like … um, socially acceptable. Like Marlboro and DWI were. Then folks started dying, and they weren’t. Everybody’s doing it. Okay… So not everybody, but more than a few. You’re not in high school, so it doesn’t matter what everybody’s doing. They say the key is to manage it. The key is to not do it! Don’t be naïve.

“One can be interested without being naïve. What the fork does that even mean? I know it sounds crazy scary, but that’s part of the appeal. There’s no appeal in crazy! Part of growing up is doing dangerous things? Part of growing old is avoiding dangerous things.

“I’ve developed a skill, a trick … no, a meditation is more accurate. Anyways, I can step outside myself—my actual life—and into what could be another dimension. It’s there I find a sense of control. Control that’s utterly foreign to the brutality of the gray dullness that is me, my life. So use the control to turn gray into rainbows. I think that’s the way in. Unless it’s the way out?”

* * ** * *

The minutes were like days, then seconds, then days again. She’d held on like letting go would cause a slip into the darkest corner of outer space. “Where the fork are you? It’s been at least twenty-three-er-ten hours since…” she said. Words rolled from her tongue and off her lower lip like boulders tumbling down a mountain.

Page Two

“OMG. Where’ve you been? Who’s here? Please don’t leave again. I don’t want to be alone. You promised to keep me safe. Remember? You promised. Who promised, and what’d they promise?”

Excitement surged through her like electricity from a lightning strike. Her back arched, her legs separated. The invitation was unconditional. She seemed more interested in satisfying cravings than enjoying the subtly of tenderness, intimacy.

“Dear God,” she screamed. “Don’t … don’t stop. Ever! I’ve never… And you ain’t now. You can yell whatever you want, it means shit. That’s all. Just shit.”

The ligaments in her knees, elbows, and hips seemed to melt. Her hands grabbed at the mattress like a mechanical claw lifting junkyard steel. Her battle against what felt like being absorbed was instinctive.

“I need to be beneath—to ooze between—your flesh and muscle.” Her tone was lyrical, tumbling boulders replaced by a nursery rhyme’s lilt. “Knowing how you feel being inside me. What the fork? Where do you think your fingers are? That’s what it feels like.”

She seemed to stop having sex, to just become it. Hers was the experiential equivalent of the origins of life uncovered. With strength insufficient to open her eyes, collapse was the only option. Collapse into the sweet fragrance of satisfaction, which morphed into the ubiquitous stench of licentiousness.

“I can’t feel you. Where have you gone? Please don’t leave… There ain’t no one here but you. Just you. Alone. Always”

Page Three

Shaking fingers fell on damp sheets. Frantic fingers searched as far as she could stretch. Eyes opened to an empty bed, an empty room, an empty world.

“No, no, no,” she moaned. “Don’t … I gotta admit, when hallucinations can feel like that, that’s some good shit.”

“No-o-o-o-o-o-o. No-o-o-o. Maybe too forking good!”

Her cry woke a blue-ribbon Abyssinian with a start. Its unmanaged jump from bed to nightstand fell a small Swarovski vase, causing it to veer into a family photo. The photo’s silver frame tumbled into a Naloxone-filled syringe, pushing it from the nightstand. The cat’s collision with the vase caused it to roll over a used rig, a flame tarnished silver spoon, the nightstand’s edge to fall atop the syringe, shattering both against Italian marble tile. The last of coarse brown powder scattered, mixing with synthetic morphine which leaked into grout lines. To become caked on the pads of frantic cat paws.

Her plaintive wail, the cat’s screams, the tumbling vase, the breaking glass were all absorbed by the room’s afternoon heat. Replaced with chipping—steel chisel against stubborn stone, interrupted momentarily by the bedroom’s commotion—chip, chip, chip of itinerant Hispanic artisans decorating the facade of an outdoor kitchen. Replaced too, by a fugacious trespasser come to liberate a bored being seeking color in the gray. The chipping that creates not, instead, leaving in its wake a life unprotected, unconscious, and finally unrealized.

“Chipping, chip, chi… sh… ss…”


The material on this page is the original work of Bruce L. Farrow-Smith and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. If you have any questions regarding its copyright status contact the owner using the information Here.

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