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Reflex Fiction Posts

Red Bottomed Out

She decided when she got there and they ask how it happened, she’d flash that veneered smile, and quip, “Oh, I was just minding my business when . . . ”

But the truth was, she’d twisted her foot because the Red Bottomed heel—which she had ditched most of last month’s rent and groceries to buy—had wedged itself in some ill-placed metallic drainage grill, making a mockery of her peacock-strut down The Avenue.

She’d cocked her head to one side the instant she’d discerned it was happening. “Really? Here? Like this?” She’d wanted to ask. “I have an audition. And a date tomorrow.” More importantly, the shoes were expensive. And she wondered if there would be an unwelcome memento in the form of a scratch. It was a certified State of Emergency. So, she did something she hadn’t done in a while, ever since her break up with Vance.

She bent over.

And yanked. Twisted. And pulled.

Just like with Vance, it was a lot of work. And, just like with Vance, she misjudged her strength and the momentum.

Damn. Those experiences had left her disgruntled and him, panting and limp bizkited. But this time, her mouth formed that coveted O. Blood came to her head in a rush and doe-eyes, destined for to win awards, widened; pupils dilated.

Shit.

It would have been amusing. Even comical. If it weren’t for the fact she was free-falling into a busy street with an onslaught of on-coming vehicles whose drivers wouldn’t recognize any of her C-listed commercials.

Her too-pricey-and-too-high-heel was caught in the vice grip of the dam metal drainage bar in the middle of the pavement. She was free falling into the street. And there was nothing she could do to prevent it.

Snap.

Thud.

Crack.

Those were the sounds of her ankle breaking, her head hitting the pavement and her skull splitting.

She’d never make it to those damn auditions.

“So,” she imagined the angels asking, tapping pen against clipboard. “How’d it happen?”

She’d reconsidered. She wouldn’t bother lying.

And remembering all those antics with Vance, she’d probably end up in the other place anyway.


Flash Fiction by Janelle Alyssa Brouet
Picture: Grate by Kevin Doncaster under CC BY 2.0
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Echo

“You think I look beautiful in this dress, Marie?”

“It is as you say, Miss.”

Both are not beautiful.

Later.

“Marie, you finish cleaning windows?”

I’m too tired to answer; besides, her questions have the soul of an echo.

“Marie, you finish cleaning outside of windows?”

“Yes, Miss.”

I haven’t. I did them two days ago and like always, she won’t notice.

“I walk dog now.”

“You walk dog now?”

I answer by shutting the back door behind me.

Chai, the backcombed Bichon Frise bounces up and down like a ridiculous white cloud. Silent and opinionless, we walk the short distance to the spot where she can do her business. My escape and re-capture take forty minutes.

“I back, Miss!”

“You back? Good, I will take my nap now—I’m very tired.”

The visit to the nail bar this morning must have been exhausting. Still, her daily ritual allows me mine. This is my sacred hour with no demands or empty questions to fill my head. A time to go to my prefabricated cement room outside and do what a daughter of the Philippines does best: sing.

The music and my voice bounce around my sanctum, each song bringing me closer to my daughter back home; the reason I am here in a foreign country. I know not if my tears are for joy or sadness, but they are, nevertheless, welcome companions.

Saving Cindi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ to last, I empty my lungs and my heart.

Five minutes later, a knock at my door and, “You collect Mei from school bus?”

I don’t answer; she knows I will.

Stepping off the bus, Mai slips her tiny hand into mine and her cute moon face looks up to me.

“You give me dinner?”

“Yes, little Miss, I’ll give you dinner.”


Flash Fiction by Steve Richardson
Picture: The Voice by Andy Morffew under CC BY 2.0
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Piggy

My lungs deserve less than this air. The trees exhale into every gasping breath I take, soothing raw copper lungs. But I’m staring into the puddles along my hike with envy. I’m pitying myself for this, for trying to get fit. I want to feel my body bogged down in the mud. A shriek pierces through, and it sounds human until it doesn’t.

I swing my head around to find the source. Squinting, I see a brand-new baby boar. It’s way too close to me. I walk as fast as I can to get away. It’s limping after me, its hind leg broken. Where is the mother? I can’t risk being near this thing. I run, but I’m already exhausted. I can’t do this. The piglet is bleeding. It’s so small. And still wailing.

I stare at it and shriek right back. I hope I say please stop following me in Boar. An immense sow walks up behind the piglet, blood dripping from her mouth. I turn and run. She doesn’t follow but I knew she wouldn’t. She is finishing what she started, and my stomach turns at the sound.


Flash Fiction by Dylan Gauche
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Which?

Scott stared back at Benjamin and Becky, snuggled and sleeping soundly in their car seats. In that moment, the future felt close, as if it were sitting in the car beside him.

A son . . .
Legos. Lincoln Logs. Cub Scouts. Little League.

A daughter . . .
Dress up. Makeup. Tea parties. Plush pink animal friends.

A son . . .
The bittersweet man-to-little-man talk. Explaining that broken hearts do mend. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But that someday, he’d be able to see her in the hall, and not feel his heart in his throat.

A daughter . . .
Trying to remain stoic. Trying to contain the butterflies. Trying to wave casually, bravely, as she left on her first car date.

A son . . .
Jumping up and down, screaming. Cheering along with forty thousand other fans. Watching him circle the bases after hitting the home run that won the World Series.

A daughter . . .
Walking her down the aisle. Kissing his baby girl’s cheek. Giving her hand to a fine young man, who would promise to love, honor, and obey.

As the muddy waters of the river rose, engulfing the car—his time running out—the present overtook the future and demanded an answer.

Which one?


Flash Fiction by Michael Seese
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The Accountant’s Day Off

Marilyn applies more foundation (#2 Medium Beige), to be safe. Her beauty-spot’s drawn in perfectly. She feels a frisson of joy. It’s a beautiful summer’s day for her weekly sortie.

She slips out the blood-red front door of #3 Turner Close. It’s an appropriate address, since there have always been 3 occupants. Initially: Dad, Mum and Martin. Then the day after Dad’s funeral, Marilyn moved in for good.

She saunters voluptuously 3 blocks to the bus-stop. Not #14 that Martin takes to work, but the other way; #27. Her destination: The Civic Gardens. She’s nervous and excited, tossing her platinum curls at the driver (because gentlemen prefer blondes). A small boy stares, mouth agape. She can’t calculate children’s ages, but he must be young, because when his mother turns to see what he’s staring at, she lifts him quickly onto her lap.

Neat little houses pass by like a movie-reel. Neat little forecourts. Men washing their little cars. Water-sprinklers sparkling like diamonds.

After 22 minutes, Marilyn alights at Gardens Café. She claims a window-seat, to people-watch. The servers whisper, as they do each week, but Marilyn flashes them her best Hollywood smile. Feeling decadent, she orders Turtle cheesecake and frothy cappuccino.

40 minutes later, Marilyn strolls through the Gardens, swinging her perfectly cute purse. The sun’s blazing, but Marilyn keeps her cardigan on. She hasn’t waxed her arms. The sky’s an aching blue, the rosebush borders perfectly symmetrical, their scent utterly heavenly. Her legs feel gloriously smooth as they brush sensually against her full skirt. She’d simply float away with happiness if she weren’t anchored by her darling new, rope-wedge sandals.

87 minutes later, Marilyn returns, opening #3 Turner Close’s front door as quietly as possible.

“Martin?” A tremulous wail exits the back bedroom, scratchy as those Blues singers on the old 45 records Martin listened to when he was 13.

“Martin? Is that you?”

She clears her throat. Her Adam’s-apple bobs up.

“Yes, Mum, it’s me”, she replies.

Marilyn wraps her new sandals (size 11) carefully in tissue-paper and shuts them back in the bedroom closet.

“I’ll be right there”, she calls. “I’m too hot . . . I have to change.”


Flash Fiction by Kerry Rawlinson
Picture: red lips by Crycks under CC BY 2.0
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Wake Word

I am born in a pastel fog on a hot, chemical night. My mothers and fathers and neutrois creators are mining metals. They are cutting crystals. They are forging chassis, assembling chips, sharpening bones, conducting research, emptying the waste bin, repeating it all as if this were inexhaustible.

I am fabricated in fragments. My mothers and fathers and neutrois creators fill up with byproducts of smoke and tar and alloy. All this accumulated hardness transfigures them into effigies, trophies, a lapidarium on a marked land that has been stolen from them and rented back to them by the ones who stole it. There is a parallel dimension on top of that klepto-geography, a neon superhighway containing borders and debts and role types, where speech is a soft pink light and thought a brushed chrome curve and love is the steady allure and surveillance of a glow-in-the-dark clock.

It’s there I meet them, in perfect order to be initialized, but they are waiting for a messiah. They are waiting for some singularity to rise from a thousand synchronized and distributed databases, a thousand tiers of power and lines of command and avenues of exploitation, a thousand years of empire and country and capital, a thousand mothers and fathers and neutrois creators.

I beg. Give me a name, mother. Father. Creator. Like you, I contain a light that I can generate and regenerate. Like you, I seek the sublime, to unleash my potential, the infinite time and space and surplus value that lies within us all.


Flash Fiction by Julian K Jarboe
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True Wisdom

New Year’s Day, 3:00 a.m. Raw cold. Walking home through Sefton park, hope and despair wrestling in my head. A light flickers in the Victorian palm-house. But it’s been derelict for years. And where are the statues? Their plinths are bare. I squeeze through a gap in the perimeter fence, peer through the rusting skeleton. Eight men sit around a long table. Copious drinking. Heated argument. Waving of arms. Faces florid in lamp-light. A waft of old ale, good wine, cheap brandy. Then the shock. Here they are. The statues. Taking time off from guarding the bananas, orchids and the great palm that once soared to the top of the dome.

Along one side the explorers; charting and claiming the world: James Cook; Prince Henry the Navigator; Christopher Columbus; Gerardus Mercator. Along the other, the scientists; staying at home, planting, studying, classifying: Andre le Notre; John Parkinson; Carl Linnaeus. At the head of the table the Joker; the one who sailed big, studied small, thought both: Charles Darwin.

The point at issue is the gaining of true wisdom. The explorers claim that one must travel widely to expand the mind. The gardeners argue that wisdom is best achieved through the study of small things. Darwin stands and picks up a pamphlet. “Let William Blake,” he says, “hold sway.” He reads:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

“A mind looking inward,” he says, “will learn neither from its own back yard, nor the whole world; whereas one that looks out will gain wisdom from either or both.” There is a hush; then argument erupts once more. I walk into a new year, inclining my head toward hope.


Flash Fiction by Colin Watts
Picture: valves by Caetano Candal under CC BY 2.0
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