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Reflex Fiction Posts

Cry Me a River

The room pulsed with clothes. Dresses with full skirts and taffeta swung from coat hangers; checked shirts peeked out from railings placed around the room; lacy underwear spilled and surged from drawers; socks with ruffles littered the floor; vintage headscarves draped themselves across a wooden desk in the corner. The floor itself, covered in a black-and-white squared carpet, was almost visible, its monochrome tones setting off the vibrant clothing. Bracelets and necklaces were scattered here and there like shells on a beach.

She had broken up with her boyfriend several days earlier and needed somewhere to stay. Rochelle, with her swoop of dyed hair and her piercing like a freckle, had offered her floor space in her room while she looked for a new flat; Amber had happily acquiesced. Now she looked around her at the clothes that seemed to leap around the room, filling each inch of space, and wondered where her air mattress would fit in.

That night, she lay listening to Rochelle’s soft snuffling. She felt as if she were adrift on a vast sea, one made up of silk and cotton, polyester and leather. Waves of denim rolled towards her. She imagined how her former boyfriend would be sleeping alone in their large bed, his body spread-eagled, rising and falling with the curves of sleep. A single tear squeezed itself from her eye, tipped onto the mattress, and settled on the layers of fabric surrounding her. She heard a stirring, a ruffling. Gentle creasings of sound found their way to her ears, and she opened her eyes. A column of socks was marching her way: grey, green, polka dot, striped, darned, knitted, fluffy. She rubbed her eyes, opened them wider, and saw trouser legs sliding across the floor. A polo neck jumper raised itself up inquisitively, before turning in her direction and pulling itself forward with its woollen arms. She heard a clink clink clink as earrings tip-toed across the room. Finally, the taffeta dresses rose up to their full heights and devoured her.


Flash Fiction by Suzannah V Evans
Picture: Sock drawer by Rhonda under CC BY-SA 2.0
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The Word

Another sip of freshly-pressed coffee, as feet pace around the kitchen and into the study. There’s a chill underfoot when emigrating from warm under-floor ceramic heat to room temperature carpet. A fragrant woollen floor covering scented from a rolling, scratching, chewing, dribbling canine partner in procrastination.

Ergonomic seat placed at a cluttered desk, a mismanaged surface of distraction. Computer screen echoes the randomness of clutter in assorted browser tabs. Social media videos and emojis convert to the equivalent first primal attention given to flickering flames of fire. A stare as distant as it is close.

Again, up from chair to stand, itching a single shoulder, hoping, as left hand brings money, so may the shoulder bring decision. Or was that the right? A scratch of the right then, which could chase away any resolve. Back and forth, one side to next from shoulder, to neck, to head.

The body is covered in self-doubt. The stronger the scratch, the greater dulling of indecision. But it’s a lie no less, a conversion of mind-fog to red-raw skin. The problem remains unresolved.

Steps retrace to the kitchen, to procure tea, with a snack. A sweet diversion, not needed nor desired, but fulfilling absent headspace. Only, it falls straight through the abyss that is the anxious confused mind, there is no fulfilment.

Again from warm to cool, out from culinary to digital temptation. To the seat, place the cup, hold that thought, tap the keyboard, start on the page, type the first letter, and then the next. A word, there is a word, a fine word. A word of meaning, portrayed from notion, of outstanding literary merit.

It’s there.

Alone.

It’s drowning in a sea of emptiness. Pressure from the depth of blank emittance. Backspace. Overwhelming is the strength of doubt.


Flash Fiction by M E Lucas
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The First Date

As Luke proffered the last mini vanilla slice sitting temptingly atop the cake stand, he wondered at his luck in having met Emily. He had been on so many first dates in the last few months that he had almost given up on the idea of certainty in love, a notion his friends mocked him mercilessly for believing in. But he had swiped right just one more time, and how thankful he was for that now!

While the pretty girl sitting opposite him took her first bite of the already bite-size treat, Luke found himself imagining their life together.

He saw a cottage in the Cotswolds, a worked farm to the left, and to the right fields overgrown with the most piercingly azure blue cornflowers. A garden filled with toys, and a bright-eyed boy running around his mother as she hung out the washing. Joy everywhere. It was everything he had dreamed of. And Emily would be the one he would share it with, he decided.

Sure, it was sudden. But how much time did one really need to know? he asked himself, smiling as he returned to afternoon tea with his future wife.

“So,” he began, as he watched her take her second bite of the pastry.

She savoured its extraordinary yumminess and marvelled at how fortunate she was to be in such uncommonly decadent surroundings.

“Are you ready to answer my earlier question now?” he asked, a playful glint in his eyes.

He felt confident that she was. He was quite certain that the feelings he had were not unrequited.

She put down the last, tiny piece of delicate patisserie, and looked back at him with a glassy gaze. He took it for lack of memory of the question given a couple of hours had passed since he had posed it for the first time.

“Are you ready to tell me your best-kept secret?” he reminded her.

She put her hand out to reach his across the space between them, and they touched for the first time.

And then she quietly spoke the most difficult words she would ever have to speak.

“I’m dying.”


Flash Fiction by Liz Arnold
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The Well-Beloved

“I won’t ever marry again,” I said.

“Ah, you only say that because you haven’t met the right person.”

“But I don’t want to meet the right person.”

“That’s because you haven’t met him yet.” And he linked my arm as we crossed the road.

“I feel just the same about the lottery,” I said. “I don’t buy a ticket because I don’t want to win. My life’s fine just the way it is.”

Out of the cold and into the raucous heat of the bar. Crowded; bodies too close. Greetings, shrieks, singing and bonhomie, all too loud, but it’s that time of year. We pushed our way to the bar, and then to an empty table and continued bickering the way old friends do. Comfortable with opposing ideas batted to and fro.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“You’re full of shit.”

Another round of drinks. And another. On my way back from the bar I saw a stranger had joined our table and I froze like Lot’s wife but with a pint in each hand.

He was scrawny and tall with red hair, the teine biorach, and a little beard, and no doubt at all, but his eyes twinkled with malice. I had seen him before, but only in books of fairy tales. He was a sprite, a will-o-the-wisp. For sure, his middle name would be Rumpelstiltskin or Moloch or Pooka. He could be my undoing; a man like him; predatory, cunning like a dog-fox, and stronger than he looks. And I knew him immediately. Because I had always known him. Because he was the well-beloved.

There was only one thing for it. I left the drinks and backed away. I climbed out of the toilet window, out into the yard. A couple were there, against the wall, she had her arms around his neck, his hand around her thigh, their bodies knotted together. I shimmied past them quite unseen, past the empty kegs, out of the gate. Into the cool night and only four miles from home.


Flash Fiction by Jupiter Jones
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Point of No Return

It’s 6 a.m. as the door softly clicks behind me. I begin to run. I’ve never felt so alive, so frightened and so grown up all at the same time. The note I’ve left doesn’t say much. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this but somehow I know it will be the last.

I get to the fence that stretches alongside the 401, throw my bag over and begin to climb. My right thigh rips open as it attempts to meet the left on the highway side of the fence and my skirt snags the barbed wire and tears.

“Where are you headed,” the driver asks.

“Montreal.”

The van is stuffed with Toronto Sun newspapers and the trio in back say hello when I climb in. As we pull out, I glance back at the swatch of skirt dangling on the other side of the fence, the safe side.

Approaching Kingston, the driver begins dropping off delivery people and newspapers until it’s just the two of us. I have seen the knife beside his cigarettes on the dash, watched him slice open bundles of papers. I have caught him staring at my braless breasts when he should be watching the road. I have heard stories of what happens to teenage hitchhikers. So why am I surprised when he pulls off the highway and grabs the knife?

I have also heard about a mother lifting a car to save her baby and once, when I was furious with my sister, I sent her sailing into the cupboard. As he tries to straddle me on the floor of the van, I load my legs like springs and I kick. Fresh blood bursts out the cut on my thigh as he shoots backwards, his head smashing into the metal siding of the rear seat.

I sit up stunned. He’s not moving. Finally he groans and I know he’s not dead. I grab my bag and swipe his cigarettes.

Shaking on the side of the highway, part of me wants to go home, but I’m not sure where that is anymore. I light a cigarette and stick out my thumb.


Flash Fiction by Glenna Turnbull
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Swimming in the Void

Working Black Friday was never ideal for any retail employee, but having to work a ten-hour shift, standing in the parking lot at three o’clock in the morning collecting the discarded shopping carts just seemed downright criminal.

Two hours down. He watched as the never-ending line of people flocked to the store, herded like cattle by the employees standing inside, all while they made small talk about the weather and how they hated the cold breeze coming in through the open door. Only eight to go.

The worst part of the whole experience, aside from listening to shoppers on their way out complain about one thing or another, was the fact that some of these shoppers couldn’t be bothered to put the carts in the corrals, letting them roam free throughout the parking lot. If there was a strong enough wind, or the cart was left on an incline, there was no stopping it from rolling out to the farthest corner of the lot out by the main road.

A car pulled up beside him with the window down.

“Excuse me, sir,” said the driver. “I think you missed one.”

The woman behind the wheel pointed out to the street. Following her finger, his gaze found the far corner of the lot where a cart waited, almost mocking him from a distance. He trudged his way out to the far reaches of the parking lot, cursing every shopper that decided to come out that morning. It started to snow, coming down heavily as he reached the cart. Cold, livid, and tired, he turned around with the cart to head back to the store, but something prevented him from moving.

He was alone. The chaos of Black Friday slipped away, disappearing under the wintry blanket. As the snow fell under the streetlights, he was reminded of stars shooting by, almost as if he was no longer in that parking lot, but rather in deep space, swimming in the void. And for the first time, surrounded by a snow-covered sea of silence, all seemed right in the world.


Flash Fiction by Billy Karalus
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Mexican Standoff at the Tenth

The golf course’s gated mansions ostentatiously out-Jones each other with elaborate rock gardens, fantastical fountains and ornately tiled turquoise pools. The sun beats down on cicada and Countach alike.

She’s lounged for hours, soaking it in, stretched out along the cobblestones beside an enormous swimming pool. Her warmed skin tightens. Eyes unfocused, she’s absorbing the languid calls of crickets, birdsong, trickling water; blissfully lizard-brain. Her blood stirs, sensual with residual heat. Even as an objective bystander, you’d have to admit she’s breathtaking.

But now she decides she could really do with a nap. Circumnavigating a rearing saguaro’s prickly reach, she heads for home, moving onto the new-mowed grass. The scent of chlorophyll as the soft thatch crushes slightly beneath her, and the cool dampness it releases, make her very cells feel alive.

But a hard, egg-like entity drops abruptly from the sky, bouncing with ominous thuds. She stops, startled. Footfalls from afar come crashing closer. An irate golfer’s curses beat around the cactus. Her head spasms in panic. She definitely needed no company today… Her tongue flickers, delicately testing the air’s vibrations; her rattles click. And the intruder gasps, instinctively lifting his club.

Eye-to-eye, down through millennia, man and reptile glare at one-another, frozen in motion. Both species deadly if provoked, both equally ready to strike.


Flash Fiction by Kerry Rawlinson
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