She started to walk … to catch the bus … reached into her coat pocket for her purse and found the sandwich half. She took it out … to drop … into the street, but instead she put it back into her pocket.
—J. D. Salinger
He is indulgent. Hungry. Hungry for her. He slurps his drink and wolfs part of his sandwich. They both had ordered chicken salad on wheat toast.
She is pleasant, yet reserved. The sun shines off her hair as if it were gold-spun, but the stars in her eyes are vanishing—last night’s tryst fading with them.
Her room key lies on the café table.
She tries hard not to clench her hands around the sandwich, harder yet to squeeze the sharp words from coming out of her mouth lest they cut through her heart. She would rather swallow them. She loved him… at least for a while. She sips the ice-cold water before saying anything, as if that could quench their heat or dull their sharpness, but her words sear and jab anyway. She twirls her wedding ring as if that could wipe away the tarnish. This is not the way she intended to end the affair.
He had planned to spend the day with her at the beach—he, freed from the constant pressure at the university, the politics and endless paper to grade; she, relieved from her prim and proper airs at the church office. After her less than holy words, he glares at her for the longest time, but his own words still catch in his throat. He glances at the bowls of fruit on the table—the blueberries, the way they fall on the moist cantaloupe; the green grapes and sour cherries; the strawberries glistening on slices of mango and banana. Then he cranes his neck back up to her. “Fish,” he finally says. His lips stop at that utterance, but his eyes keep speaking. A long moment later, he finishes his comment while cocking his head. “Don’t let them bite you.” He swigs the rest of his rum and coke, slams the glass down on the table, but leaves his napkin neatly folded, just as his parting words leave his lips pursed. Her glass still rocks—water tossing as the surf with the ice cubes still jostling—as he walks away.
She simply stares at his half-eaten chicken sandwich, plate pushed aside; chips falling as they may.
John C. Mannone has over 400 works appearing in venues such as Artemis, The Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, Town Creek Poetry, Negative Capability, Tupelo Press, The Baltimore Review, The Pedestal, and others. He has two poetry collections: the dark literary Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing) and the 2013 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize quarter finalist on disability poetry, Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wing’s Press) is forthcoming. He won the the 2015 Joy Margrave Award for creative nonfiction and served as the 2013 Rhysling Poetry Chair. He is the poetry editor for Silver Blade and for the 2015 Hugo-nominated magazine, Abyss & Apex. His work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. He is a professor of physics in east TN. Visit The Art of Poetry: http://jcmannone.wordpress.com
Everyone’s heads turned as Opal Shane made her way down the auditorium’s aisle.
Today, she was dressed in high-waisted denim shorts, a red-and-black plaid shirt, stacks and stacks of long silver necklaces, and a sheer white cardigan. White chucks and black shades topped it off.
It didn’t make sense, yet it looked good.
What happens when we only see the stereotype. In "The Aliens," a flash fiction piece by Lynn Mundell, maybe aliens are among us bathed in stereotypes.
The army sergeant was disgusted by the breastfeeding mother at Target, who thought that all people in camo were scary, as were the two nearby Goths with the black makeup, who were freaked out by the staring missionaries, who were most shocked by the tattooed cashier...
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Grieving and life mingle in this flash fiction piece by Cari Scribner, "Things to do While Waiting For Snow."
Your son asks for an egg sandwich. You can’t remember how he likes his eggs, so you cook them over easy. The seeping yolks distress you. You cook the eggs some more. Half the English muffin gets stuck in the toaster. When you poke it with a fork, it rips to shreds. You eat one of the broken pieces, burning your lip. You utter choice words.
Dennis Milan Bensie offers a baptism of a different sort in his flash fiction piece, "Save Dave".
You tell your mom you don’t want to sit in the dunking booth.
“You have to,” she says. “You’re the biggest draw of all the fallen kids.”
Your dad instructed you to paint a sign: DUNK THE PUNK.
Dunk you, Dad.
Ever wondered what happens in Hell? Olin Wish explore's an eternity of window shopping in his flash fiction piece, "Hell is a Place Full of Window Shoppers".
The wife had been waiting with the stroller at the store entrance. She and the baby had died first. The kids followed shortly thereafter. Clean lines, harsh light, and eternity passed at a snail’s crawl in a warehouse for the damned without a dollar to spend or a house to fill with ugly furniture. Revolving, single file, through a mystical small intestine. If only they had decided to fly to Disney world instead of drive, he had thought on more than one occasion in those early days.
Lou Gaglia takes us to a baseball game in his short story "A Sure Thing". After a little girl gets hit by a stray ball, a father considers which risks in life are worth taking.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter if you're smart or careful," she said. She rested her head on my shoulder, and I thought about the old man and his deer whistle.
Because she carelessly wiped her sucker against the bush, the bees came. First, one. Nuzzling into the prickly green bramble-sticks. Attracted by the faint aspartame stickiness perfuming the taught needles’ shiny varnish. Enpapping his little furry beak in his prescribed yet always desperate search for melilotusessence.
William Lemon begins his time as our Writer of the Month for March 2016 with an unsettling flash fiction piece, part of a series across several lit sites, "This Man".
Lise Quintana builds a shocking, sweet legend around one of the most unique performers in music history: Yoko Ono.
In early 1980, just before John Lennon's death, Yoko Ono considered a breast augmentation. But this was 1980, and this was Yoko Ono. These would not be regular one-on-each-side-with-a-nipple-on-top kinds of breasts. Not for Yoko.