Flash fiction is short, sharp and memorable. They are stories allowed only to be a few hundred words. This week, Audrey’s Corner presents flash fiction from Sacred Heart writers Ayasha Cantey and Kailey Blount.
Fog on Her Glasses
By Ayasha Cantey
That smell, it’s intoxicating. It’s the smell of ink that has been swallowed by a page. It’s fragile and smooth. This has to be my happy place.
I had stumbled across a bookstore. It’s not at all what I had expected. There are just walls and walls of binded pages and endless stories. In an ideal life, I would be able to bear it all. The pain, the horror, the mystery, the love. But in this lifetime, there isn’t nearly enough time.
I walk the aisles with no purpose in mind. It’s beautiful and aimless. I get to pick what story is mine. Even if it’s only for a minute.
I find a book tucked into the shelf. I push my glasses farther up the bridge of my nose. The cover was nothing but decomposed shreds. It held the faint smell of Masseto wine. The pages were tinted a dull crimson. I had no clue why this old disgusting thing had captivated my mind. But my glasses twinged with curiosity.
I slid down the bookcase until I reached the floor. I nuzzled my knees under my body to give myself some comfort. I tried to flip the stiff page. It was as if the story inside was too scared to show itself. Maybe it wasn’t good enough to bear. Or maybe I just wasn’t the one who deserved to hold it close.
I have never experienced love. Other than the words saved in pages in a book. So I have no idea where to start. But I know one thing is certain: it started here. My glasses will capture everything worthwhile. The fog that coats these bent wire frames will be the one thing that separates love from the unknown.
As I walked out of the heated store, the cool air tickled my skin. The sudden gust of air caused my glasses to fog.
I felt the color of my body fade into the gust of wind. The next squall took my translucent body with it. The only thing that was left were my cracked, crooked frames and the Masseto-tinted pages.
Without the heat radiating from my spirit onto the lenses, the frames slowly fogged over. Not even the glint of curiosity was left behind.
A Love Letter to my Mother
By Kailey Blount
When I was a child, my mother waged a war between being my mother and being herself. And when she lost a battle, I, baby fat clinging to my cheeks, became our mother.
The first time I remember losing my mother was on a New York City sidewalk. Gum stained the curbs, street lights flickered, and we stumbled, alcohol on her breath, fear on mine, down concrete steps littered with needles and strangers. That morning, while still mine, she’d tugged a fur-lined coat over my shoulders, and told me not to touch the subway seats. I hadn’t, diligently, holding out chapped palms for her to lather soap upon. In daylight, the city still sober, tucked beneath my mother’s arm, following my father’s feet, the skyscrapers felt reachable. Like if I stood up on my tiptoes and jumped, I too could be that tall.
Night fell with my arms wrapped around hers, my father’s feet too far ahead to find. My skyline too high to reach. Cars roared around us, drowning out my mother’s mumbles and the clack of my size-three shoes. On the train ride home, her head in my lap, she told me she loved me. She’d said so often, between cups of tea and bandages for my knees. Those had been a mother’s I-love-yous. This one was different. It was an I-love-you only a woman lost could give her tether home. Except, I hadn’t meant to be her tether. I’d only meant to be her daughter.
But when we are lost, we will make anything ours.
My parents met at a frat party in the 1980s. My mother remembers forgetting my father’s name. My father remembers remembering hers. Scratching her phone number into his freckled flesh, he’d call the next day, a landline connected to a drowning place. After hanging up, he’d drive to a local bookshop, his comic book collection stacked tall in the passenger seat of his beat-up car. At a coffee-ringed counter, he’d sell his childhood dreams for a date with her. A suitcase full of chicken scratch love letters later, they married.
Their story is a well-worn sweater, riddled with holes. It’s one whose details change often, depending on the weather. On their stormy days, I took shelter in our coat closet. Twirling in my city jacket, marching in my mother’s rain boots, I pretended to be someone grown, someone hindered only by the winds of her own. My parents knew to find me there, amongst their discarded treasures, after their storm. No one explicitly told me it was my job to dry them off, except maybe for God, who talked to me on Sundays about gift wrapping my best coat and making a present of it. And so, I’d reach over their slouched shoulders and bundle them up, as best I could, in my too-small church sweaters. And, while they slipped their confessions in my empty coat pockets, like fortune cookie wrappers, I’d pray for clear skies and stormless nights.
Piecing together her fortune cookie confessions, I read my mother’s story like an age-old riddle. If her childhood home was a place drowned, mine was to be a place burned. The fumes falling and rising at my father’s will, scarring olive skin white. After years of floods, her bones always wet, the flames must have felt nice, at least for a little while. Warm, an embrace, so different from the cool rush of wayward waves. My body, burnt, could not agree.