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Reflex Fiction Posts

When Is It Time to Go Home?

All I needed was a sign. It was a club, of course the floor was sticky. Not a sign. I had a good look at everything, but couldn’t see the end of the room in the fake fog. Luck would have it that the boredom the reader is currently experiencing with this description was also my own, so I danced. Soon, elbows flew south west-north east and no one could finish a whole drink before it was knocked out of their sticky, dirty hands. People’s shirts and trousers smelled more of spilled Red Bull than perspiration (wonderful), and there was always someone gagging in the corner. Every time I went out to the smoking area, the sun shone brighter. It was a hot summer morning. Still no sign. Suddenly, there was a girl, poor thing, coral red lipstick smeared all over her face, twitching with a cigarette in the heat. When told that she looks like Joker, and that she should fix that, she became grateful, so grateful, that her trembling voice could barely reach past her lips to say, “Tha-a-a-a-a-a-a-nk youuu so mu-uu-u-ch. Woul youu lii-i-ike some M-mmd-m-a?”

Immediately, she collapsed and nobody turned. I tried to help her up, but every time I reached out to help her, I hit the mirror.


Flash Fiction by Ellan
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Adam

He did have exceptional hair. No end to it. And when he slept, he looked like a plant, uprooted, brown stems all tangled in a heap. He even smelled like wood. Earth. Damp things, forest things. He didn’t wear deodorant—he was dangerous. In the morning, at my table, peeling an avocado with a small, sharp knife. Hands full of fruit, a positive Caravaggio.

In the city, he was lost. Long fingers knotted in mine. Pumpkins, too fat and too orange, stared rudely from windows.

On the park bench, pigeons gathered round us. Never enough gossip to satisfy them all. He laid his dark lion’s head on my lap. The sunset was dragon’s breath—all trickery though, the afternoon was cold. England, after all.

I led him underground. The quickest way to get around—the quickest! Not the nicest.

Dark eyes. Ash.

Eventually: It’s dirty down here.

(I didn’t say it) it’s particles of passengers (but I didn’t say it).

The tube roared, furious. Tired.

He watched others, in costumes of the city.

I nudged him.

He eyed the gap with suspicion.

We went to a pop-up gallery, café, bar, projector, bare pipes and if you don’t want, NO ONE CAN MAKE you eat gluten. Pricey drinks. He ordered, he wanted to. His shoulder blades through his T-shirt like the stumps of wings. I’d told him to bring a coat. He came back with a pot. Stewed leaves.

You like tea, he said.

We sat under a lamp: orange, red. Hot. He didn’t mind, child of the sun. My lipstick coloured my cup rose. I saw him looking and reapplied, going for ‘worldly’.

Well. Silence followed. Stretched out like a white sheet then folded in on itself. Small, small, handkerchief-sized. I could put it in my pocket and carry it round every day. I’d seen us in our old age, avocados and everything.

I avoided the park. In winter it was no place anyway, all humiliated trees. Spring was the challenge. But I went, one day. Sat on the bench. Doodled in the margins of an old notebook. Pears and the like, plump rosebuds, vines.

Well. The pigeons came back.


Flash Fiction by Charlotte Newman
Picture: Pigeon by Robert Claypool under CC BY 2.0
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Abby and Al in the Desert, Together

Before departing, Abby added Al’s name to her list of every gay friend of every gay friend in each western state on her itinerary. Three days in Reno nearly killed her: Pomegranate’s artificial-insemination daughters were the subject of a nasty custody battle between P and Maxine, a high-voltage attorney with all the money and meanness to win the twins to her side. Maxine was forty-one and barren, according to P.

At Al’s, she informed him, “Victor said you were cute.”

“Oh honey, I’m so sorry, but I’m taken!”

“I’m a lesbian, remember?”

“Ah yes, ye of the second date marriage.”

“And don’t forget the bitter divorce.”

“Like your lovely friends in Reno. How much nicer women are than men, etcetera etcetera.”

“I just hope those little girls aren’t too traumatized.”

“And why should they be any different from the children of warring hetero-parents?”

Abby rubbed her eyes. “I always want gay people to be different.”

“Better, you mean.”

“Yes.”

“You’ll learn.”

She looked at him to see if he was being ironic. She couldn’t tell. “My girlfriend of six years fell in love with a man.”

“Is that why you’re on the road?”

“I told you: I’m on my way to a new job.”

“Is that why you got a new job?”

Abby was heading to D.C. to direct the Palestinian Anti-Defamation League, media matters division. In her interview she’d made sure to come out to her supervisor, Fariq, so there would be no misunderstanding later. “We’re all workaholics around here,” Fariq had said in response. “Gay, straight, whatever.”

“I suppose. I just couldn’t handle the idea that Fatima was suddenly bisexual. I’m a dyke. I thought she was, too.”

Al rose. “Ah, our beloved labeling system. This, too, shall pass. We’ll have tea, and you’ll tell me everything.”


Flash Fiction by Annie Dawid
Picture: Twins by Tom under CC BY 2.0
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Lost Girl

Still, the ambience of the forest lurks. Where once lively boots ruffled the undergrowth there is now a quiet emptiness; all that echoes is a soft breeze gently stroking a flailing yellow and black tape. The dense surrounding of pure white bark has been robbed of its colour—a sea of crumpled crimson lies on the ground below, all but lifeless if not for the wind’s cold, playful hands.

With a sudden tenacity, a brave blackbird skims the canopy before perching on a lonely branch overlooking the scene. Its bleeding eyes swiftly yet firmly cover the area, it seems as though this place has been abandoned. In amongst a vast array of birch trees, all otherwise lined up neatly into a matrix, is a hole. A single space isolated within a pool of synchronised growth.

The bird notices something. A tiny glint of sparkling light catches itself in the creature’s pupil. Crinkling sensations arouse the bird’s feet as it lands abruptly in the centre of the hollow gap in the forest. Its neck snaps to the side and its eyes jolt to find the light again. Two short hops to the left over the lightly frosted vegetation bring the bird to its target.

A small jewelled earring with a childlike design lies poking out through the hardened mud. The bird pecks forward and clasps the object in its beak, before taking off and flying away.


Flash Fiction by Daniel Jervis
Picture: Lost earring by rjp under CC BY 2.0
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Immigrant Song

Sometimes when it’s not too cold and it’s also winter I like to climb the stairs of my apartment complex and visit the Borgeleone Family attic.

I get up to the attic by having my feet whisper to me and by keeping my hands covered with splinters.

The room is filled with cobwebs like a small wine valley. The walls are made of wood that tells stories in the knots, like The One About the Haunted Castle and the Bats or The One About the Old Crone and the Little Dog .

The room is empty: even the dust on the floor doesn’t seem to be there. I’m pretty sure I see the spider webs evaporate into smoke.

The Borgeleone Family used to live here. They were immigrants from somewhere not here.

The Borgeleone Family was an ugly family. They had flat brown faces and one long eyebrow that stretched from son to father. The son looked like the mother who looked like the old man who also looked like the daughter who looked like dirty laundry.

They were a quiet Borgeleone Family. No Borgeleone Family member ever seemed to leave the attic except the little Borgeleone Family boy, who would go play on the sidewalk with the Borgeleone Family shadow.

I can still smell the old woman’s dirty laundry on the stove. It smells like fish and work and the Borgeleone Family.

The Borgeleone Family didn’t speak any English. I’m not sure about anything they did.

Sometimes when I visit the attic and it’s not raining I pull the shutters open so I can look at the night sky over the beach.

Usually there’s too much light pollution to see anything but a star which might be a satellite over the sky.

I’ve looked at that star a lot seeing if it still moves and I’ve called it the immigration star after the constellation you, my lost neighbors.


Flash Fiction by Patrick May
Picture: Goldstaub by Marcus Pink under CC BY 2.0
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Crib Champion

That night I heard, “Fuck the popo,” and thought, shit, somebody’s done for.

The day before, “Don’t carve your name or you’ll be back, that’s what I heard in jail; buddy carved his name in and three years later was staring up at it, same cell, I seen it.”

The bench and table of the courtyard smoke pit were covered in names and dates, some carved, some in Sharpie ink. “Denial is not a river” stayed on the board.

The new people seemed to always have the same odd expression, as if they had found themselves in a zoo exhibit. “Don’t worry, you’re in the right place,” somebody’d say, not considering that perhaps this wasn’t consolation.

I looked out the window, waited for gossip of who was done for—nothing—nothing but a tabby cat—feral, I think—reminded me of the Fs—fight, flight, freeze.

One day past into the next, more names, more dates, empty beds briefly then replaced—new chore lists—I went to clean the ashtrays and found my initials underneath and I must have froze because the next I knew the ashtrays were full and the smell of burritos was coming from the kitchen.

One day at a time, as the cliché went, but sometimes the days seemed to all come at once and I knew my Fs by then—so well—even the feral cats would be jealous.

War stories filled the air with cigarette smoke. Visitors shifted around, hugging the walls. I became the next crib champion, cleaned out more ashtrays, but never put my name in.

And still when I hear a loud sound from an unknown location or watch a cat burst out with electrified hair, think—somebody’s done for, somebody’s done for. I couldn’t be crib champion forever.


Flash Fiction by Jill Talbot
Picture: Time to quit… by Tripp under CC BY 2.0
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Deprivation

I am not ready. I am not ready at all.

The director approaches, his face awash with jaded sympathy. He dips his head and utters a phrase that has been repeated a thousand times, like an Edison gramophone needle caught in a ball of dust. I concentrate on his mouth but the emitting sounds are a muted monotone, as are the words I say in response, the handshakes, the household chores, all of it. Grief has put me in a thick glass box, banished me from vibrant physics.

And yet my senses crackle, wanton and desperate. Seventeen years of familiar indulgences replaced with a loop of the shocking finale: scared eyes, a gargling fight for breath, remnants of warmth gently slipping. In our too-quiet home, nostrils tortured by the evaporating scent of her hair, which smelt, oddly, of cocoa powder, I foraged shamelessly for trinkets of life. I have become an addict, craving any small release from the throes of withdrawal.

Soon she will be reduced to cinereal ash and ground bone. An intricate collection of three trillion atoms poured into one pathetic fifteen centimetre container. The sticky taste of nausea rises in my mouth: why did I not absorb every tiny detail? Why did I not stretch each moment into individual eternities? Why did I not bottle her unique compassion, that adorable sing-song voice, the feel of her? Those things would sit far better on my mantelpiece.

I shuffle towards the furnace in my transparent cocoon. It lets nothing in, nothing out. There’s already too much in here. I should be holding a No Vacancies sign. Instead, I clasp a photo of my no more girl. It feels cold and flat.

My fingertips need her. A deep down itch: hot, red and impossible. I look at them. They convulse with missing.


Flash Fiction by Juliet Staveley
Picture: embers by goodmami under CC BY-SA 2.0
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