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Reflex Fiction Posts

Chrysopoeia on Fessenden Street

The door is locked. The window is locked. The WiFi is locked. Chry is locked. She shouts come in but doesn’t get up. Me, Natalie, Gigi, Nate crush into the house after we first yank yank yank the storm until it gives way and then one two three heave the big oak door until it opens.

NOTEVENHOUDINI ALL CAPS Nate yells and the WiFi unlocks but Chry does not.

She’s sunk deep in the sofa, legs angled up. Her hair, usually long, wavy, and brown, is wrapped tight on the top of her head. She’s wrapped in a robin’s egg blue blanket and staring at her hands holding her phone.

We have weed, we say, we have tequila, we have money, we have tickets, we have everything, we say.

Choose we say. Poem. Gun. Eyeball. Show. Teeth. Tongue. Sword. Book. We shout words at Chry the way we yanked and pushed the doors.

Chry jumps up. Tongue she says. She wasn’t relaxing or texting or reading or praying, she wasn’t doing anything.

She runs to me. (ME!) You she says, Henry she says. She kisses me deep and long and I kiss her the same. Finally. I unlock Chry and she is gold and I am gold and Natalie and Gigi and Nate are gold because they made me come to Chry’s house. Stop talking about her and go see they said before and see ya they say now and we are Chry and me and we are gold.


Flash Fiction by Laura Scalzo
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Cycling

I dreamed of the olive groves.

The weak limbed saplings, eyes scarcely open to the world, whizzing and blurring as I race down, down towards the parched earth.

I dreamed of the ragged shepherd, his ragged flock, his glance to the skies, his smile at the promise of rain. The old widow, humming mournful notes as she sat in what shade she could find.

The sea was high, the waves danced with life. The galley oars beat to steer clear of the shore.

Inland, the indomitable palace slept. Only the servants were out, smiles in the dawn. On the polished steps, a girl blushed as a young man snaked his hand around her waist and stole a kiss.

Then onto the rocks and into the stream, down through the plateau, bleeding green into the sun-bleached stone.

Down past the boulder where the river began, to the estuary, then out to sea, to the ocean, the island far behind. Sinking, sleeping, dreaming in the dark.

Dreaming while empires fell, rose and fell again, dreaming while the world spun a thousand times, a million. Caring little who had nailed whom to a cross and why, what lines were drawn in the sand and where.

Floating, sleeping, dreaming, until finally, finally, rising—up from the depths, up towards the light, up until the surface breaks.

Up, up, free of the watery cell, carried high on the wind, red through violet painted in my wake. Back over the island, now racing down.

Whizzing and blurring, the olive trees, wiser, content at lives well-lived. A farmer looks skywards, a smile at the promise of rain. A widow weeps alone in a churchyard.

The sea is full, cruise ships lull at anchor, ferries quiver in the deep.

Inland, the palace lies ruined as sightseers pick over its remains. On the shattered steps, a girl blushes as a young man snakes his hand around her waist to steal a kiss.

Then down again, down towards the thirsty earth. Onto the rocks, into the stream, on to the river. Down to the ocean to sleep.


Flash Fiction by Matthew Gibson
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Chloe

Chloe had a face like a little chimp, ugly and full of mischief. From the time she was small, she liked creating a ruckus. People guessed it might be because of Barry. Chloe’s older brother was a star: attractive, athletic, a natural leader. People were charmed by him though he said little. His beauty spoke.

As Chloe grew, so did her rebellion. She shaved her head. Her wiry body was a mass of tattoos and piercings. Every day, she wore the same disreputable black jeans, carefully ripped to show her naked butt. She found ingenious ways of skipping school. She drank and used a variety of drugs bought with money stolen from her mother. She sneered at her parents’ efforts to befriend her.

Chloe had a deep and grating voice. “I believe that child sneaks smokes when you’re not looking,” friends told her mother. Some even said, “She sounds like an old boozer.”

When Chloe dropped out of school and disappeared, no one was surprised. Her parents felt ashamed of their relief. She was, after all, their child, just like Barry. Friends rushed to help with stories of good parents who’d borne impossible children. Her parents let themselves be comforted.

For two years, they heard nothing. Then, one day, a neighbour called. “Turn the TV on,” she sputtered and named the channel, “turn it on.” Chloe’s mother hurried to obey. There, unmistakably, was Chloe, ensconced in a luxury villa with a boisterous group of friends. Cameras followed their every move: eating, fighting, cursing, making love. And Chloe was the crudest, the noisiest.

Chloe’s mother wept. “A pack of monkey’s,” she sobbed, “a pack of monkeys.”

Not long after, they received a letter from Chloe. It ended with a row of hugs and kisses. “Darlings,” she wrote, “I have found my happiness.”


Flash Fiction by Eva Eliav
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Actress

“I was there that day. I was there.”

Chitter-chatter stops; eyes fix on me. Glasses suspend between frozen mouths and litter-strewn table. I scan the scene for inspiration. His Malbec. “There was blood everywhere—it was overwhelming. I didn’t know who to help first.” Her Chardonnay. “A woman in a pale dress was lying on the floor, eyes leaking tears. I bent to talk to her, but she didn’t answer.” The bass beat from the speaker. “Footsteps pounded—thudded—it was terrifying; it went on and on. What to do? Run? Help? What would you have done? Be honest.”

Captive audience; all mine. One leans towards me—gentle fingers on shaking shoulder. Another takes my hand—warm, safe in his soft concern. I breathe. Blondie looks at me in awe; her designer lenses. “What frightened me most was the glass—exploding from windows, raining down onto innocence, icy splinters across the street. I felt it crunch as I walked, powdering into a thin, crystal carpet. Awful. Awful.”

Drop of the head, slight shudder. Get her a drink. Anyone got a tissue? Rain patters against the window. “People everywhere were crying, some silently screaming—it was like the world had stopped and everyone was weeping because there was nothing else for them. I cried too. This guy paused—he wanted to help, but his eyes were unfocused, confused; he ran off.” Blondie tries to ask a question, but I fix her with a stare—she clamps her puffy red lips together and breaks eye contact. This is my stage; butt out, Blondie.

Across the street, a garish illuminated shop sign winks at me. “When the emergency services arrived, it was chaos—flashing lights, uniforms trying to make sense of it. I gave them as much information as I could; they were very grateful.”

Delicate sniff. “Sorry, it’s so painful to talk about. Please, can we change the subject?”

Of course, of course. Hush now. Have another drink. Sit by me. You want to stay at my flat tonight? You don’t want to be alone; you’re so upset. I nod. Smile weakly. “Thanks.”

That day? No. I wasn’t there.

Silent applause.


Flash Fiction by Julia Owen
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Bumper Car Voices

Oonah listened to their sentences rising and falling. It was like a leisure park ride. Old friends’ voices. They spewed words at each other in great chains like coloured bunting and took in aural hotdogs, scarcely chewed, mouthfuls of life dripping with mustard, ketchup and fried onions. The worst thing in the world would be to bore your mates by how you sounded.

“Let my voice be a bumper ride, a water slide, a wall of death.”

Kay was greedy. She rushed through the vocal fairground using up the shared words, the TV catchphrases or references that went way back where they couldn’t remember. There was less of that, Oonah noticed.

It was hard to say when she knew she was delaying the inevitable. One year there was no candyfloss in their throats anymore. Nothing really scary they could excite each other with. There were no ghost trains in their larynges. Kay tried to be generous, to leave some tones of voice for others. But Oonah didn’t much like what was left. There wasn’t a lot to say with the expressions Kay overlooked.

Their laughs still went round but they no longer went up and down too like the blue and red horses on the merry-go-round. Didn’t Kay see? Up and down is at least as important as round and round. Giggles travelled tired circles, ending up back where they started.

The last year as Oonah arrived, the Super Loop got stuck at the top of its track. She heard the screaming. She could see Kay up there, dangling from the car. Firemen rushed in carrying ladders as she walked away.

On the way home, she finally faced up to it. It had to be done. The online form was fairly easy to fill in. The hearing aid didn’t take long to arrive.

“Should have done it twenty years earlier,” she thought the last time she went out with mates.


Flash Fiction by Jeremy Hinchliff
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Another Minute, Another Hour, Another Day

He remembers the day well; turning fifty; the appearance of a few grey hairs that have crept uninvited into his temples, too many candles to blow out and too little energy. Sitting in his favorite chair, but in no mood to celebrate; the rapid beating of his heart and feelings of trepidation as he tries to catch his breath. The look of concern that flashes across his wife’s face and disappears in the blink of an eye, fleeting as a wisp of smoke; the tenderness with which she strokes his shoulder, kisses his cheek, and whispers in his ear, ‘I love you.’ Telling her the pain is fleeting, there is no reason to be alarmed, it’s probably indigestion, and like always will go away. The ambulance siren that screams a warning as it races through city streets; the whooshing noise of emergency doors as they open and close. Listening to the sound of feet as they pound their way over frequently travelled floors, and up to the side of his stretcher; a chorus of voices who shout his name, tap him on the shoulder, and ask if he can hear them. Praying for the first time in his life as he asks for another minute, another hour and another day.


Flash Fiction by Marjan Sierhuis
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Sleepover

I come back from the bathroom and I wake Jamie.

“Mate,” I say. “Let’s climb onto your garage roof.”

He doesn’t say anything, just scratches his head. His room smells of sweat and the sweets we’ve been eating. I don’t wait for him. I just say, “C’mon.”

The landing light’s off, but his mum’s bedroom door isn’t shut, so we’re tiptoeing, whispering.

“Look,” I say, pointing into the bathroom. “We can fit through that window.”

“Why?” he says.

“Have you been on the roof before?”

He shakes his head.

“That’s why,” I say.

I put one foot on the toilet bowl, the other on the sink, and I push the latch. There are bottles on the sill, so I put them in the sink.

“We won’t fit,” says Jamie.

My hands are on either side of the open window. “I can’t believe you haven’t done this before,” I say, and I pull myself through.

The roof is flat, made out of gritty grey stuff that’s rough on my bare feet. It’s a warm night. I’m thinking about Jamie’s mum. How she bought us take-away pizza. How she was going to blow up my airbed with her mouth until I told her I’d brought a pump.

Jamie’s next to me. “What now?”

“It’d be cool to sleep out here.”

He walks over towards the edge of the roof, but he stops short. “How high is this?”

“We could jump.”

He turns to me. “I’m going back in.”

“I could push you off.”

He tries to laugh. “Yeah, right.” He goes back to the window. “C’mon,” he says. “It’s just a roof.”

I walk over to the edge so that my toes are over it, and I look out over the estate. There’s no wind, a clear sky. The moon is huge. “Don’t you think everything looks different from up here?” I say.

But when I turn around he’s already climbing back in.

I sit down and dangle my feet over the edge. I can hear him whispering my name from inside, but I just close my eyes and hold my breath.

I know I won’t breathe again until he’s gone.


Flash Fiction by Jason Jackson
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