Skip to content →

Reflex Fiction Posts

Athrú

“So how was the trip?”

It was the first word between us since he’d picked me up from O’Hare. Calls with customers, business associates ate up the lull; everyone had to talk to Dad.

“Fun. It was good to see everybody. Granny’s still sharp as a tack. All the cousins got to meet up.”

“That’s good.” He changes lanes, fast to middle.

“You’ll have to come next time.”

“I know.” His eyes stay fixed on the road. The stubble on his face is a day old, maybe two. It’s not like him to not shave. “It’d be nice to get over there again.”

“Yeah.”

We take the exit off I-80 onto I-88. Almost home.

“Did Kevin get to the airport okay?”

There’s something in his voice, I can’t put my finger on it. “Yeah. He took the bus down to Dublin, no problems. Can’t believe he’s going to London.”

His mouth twitches and the age lines carved into his face darken. “He should be over there to see the family, not going to London.”

“Wouldn’t you like to go to there, see Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, the Tower of London?”

“I don’t think that’s what he’s going to see, Kate.”

We jump off 88 and head to our subdivision. The tall oaks appear on either side of us, old and massive. The leaves haven’t changed yet, despite the chilly air. Great green gobs, hanging above us. Waiting.

“So how was the party?”

He presses on the gas and I get a sinking feeling. “Good,” I say. “Fun.”

“And Kevin?”

“Kevin was fine.”

“I heard Mom was angry with what he was wearing. At the party.” He lifts the turn signal.

“She wasn’t thrilled.”

“Said he was trying to make a statement or something.”

“I don’t know, I didn’t ask him.”

“Right.” He pulls into the driveway and puts the Toyota in park. “How long have you known?”

“A while.”

He mutters something inaudible and gets out of the car. Up in the trees I spot the first leaves that have turned. Beacons of orange, yellow and red within the fluttering green.


Flash Fiction by Brendan Bakala
Picture: Photo by eflon under CC BY 2.0
Leave a Comment

Centaur

I dreamt of a man. A man like a centaur. On a horse half naked. A young man, his skin smooth and pale, a polished gleaming fit. He rode his horse hard. The creature rearing up at the edge of the cliff. A mythic scene. He wheeled and turned and again rode him hard at it. Rode him over it. I saw the horse’s four legs flail as the man soared above him. Then whump and splat I heard the crack of head on stone. The horse just bounced and broke. I know?!? But it was a dream and so all made perfect sense. Or non sense. The man’s head rolled off somewhere and the rest of him ricocheted into the river. Along with the horse. The current took them. And rapidly they disappeared.

Then the dream was over and I woke up. I don’t know what it meant. Except maybe, that shock and surprise, although closely related are not the same. You can still be shocked by something completely unsurprising, by something expected even . . . and that you cannot prepare for pain, the surprise of it.


Flash Fiction by Sile Mannion
Leave a Comment

In Those Days

In those days, you might take any animal for a walk on a lead and no one would raise a single eyebrow. Indeed, you may well receive a pleasant greeting.

“Good day, Mr Bosanquet. I see you’re out with your python.”

“Indeed not, sir,” you say. “This is, in fact, an anaconda. From South America, don’t you know? Far more lethal.”

And they walk up to you and your animal in the street, or the park, or wherever you may be, and ask questions of you.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“They’re not really called boys or girls,” you say. “It’s a female. The females grow some three feet longer than the males and have a yellowy hue.”

“What’s her name?” They say, tickling her under the chin.

“Oh, Anna,” you say, slightly embarrassed. “As in Anna Anaconda. A bit obvious really.”

And they stroke the top of her head or her long sleek back before asking further questions.

“What’s that great lump in her side, sir?”

“She ate a child. Near the jetty in the park,” you say.

“Do you mean the jetty near the tearooms, or the one where the recreational boats are moored?”

“The one near the tearooms,” you say.

“Ah, they make such commendable comestibles, do they not, sir?” they say. “But what kind of child was it?”

“Boy,” you say. “About four, I think.”

“Quite young,” they say.

“No,” you say chuckling, “I meant she caught him about four o’clock this afternoon.”

And they laugh at the misunderstanding. “Children are thicker on the ground at that time,” they say.

And you agree.

“Well, good day, Mr Bosanquet,” they say, raising their hat. “Splendid to meet you and Anna.”

And they walk on. If they’re lucky.


Flash Fiction by John Holland
Leave a Comment

Flickerings

After closing time, I sat and smoked while Dan cleaned up behind the bar. We took a beer each to drink in the car. Our breath made clouds in the refrigerated interior until the ancient heater in his rattling Beetle brought the temperature up. We huddled in scarfs, hats and gloves as the lights followed the lines flickering down the middle of the road.

In the services, we flirted with Maureen, the Welsh lady behind the counter. She always gave us bigger portions of chips. Dan was relieved, he thought she might not like him anymore. The week before he’d asked how her husband was and she’d replied that he’d died the week before.

We sat by a window and watched the lonely lights make their way across the Severn Bridge. We didn’t talk much, just sipped our coffee, smoked and stared at the lights.

On the way back down the lanes, we hit patches of fog, the headlights lancing through the opaque swirls. As we came through Elberton it started to snow, white swirls against the black tarmac; beyond, the trees and hedgerows reeled past grey in the sweep of the headlights. The snow came down like a scratched negative on a reel to reel. The road became silver as the snowflakes settled.

“Jesus!”

Dan hit the brakes and we slithered to a halt.

They stood there, side by side and motionless, a mother and child, black eyes wide, sides flecked and smudged with white. Around them fat snowflakes whirled and flickered. The mother blinked in our headlights and turned, unhurrying, leading her child, leaping the hedgerow, gone.

The car chugged and shook. Dan looked across at me and we smiled, eyes alive.


Flash Fiction by Matthew Roy Davey
Picture: headlight by Armin Gruber under CC BY 2.0
Leave a Comment

Breakfast in Bed

She’s just gone off. Her little chest still heaves with the muscle memory of reflex sobs. Her tight colicky stomach gradually softens under my hand as her slumber deepens. I continue to rock her gently in my arms, hoping she hasn’t woken you. I pray you won’t roar out of the bedroom with your hungover violence again this morning.

The sun is rising. Golden rays travel across the living room, softening the pieces of broken furniture. They make the splinters glow like a scattering of fairy lights. But this is far from Christmas. I survey the chaos of upturned chairs, torn upholstery, scratches on the table, and calculate what can be saved. Today will be Boxing Day, in more than one sense.

As I pass the mirror in the hallway, I notice my bruised eye matches the silky strands of our daughter’s hair. Slashes of raven black against alabaster skin. In a moment I will lie her gently down to continue sleeping, as her nocturnal pattern is not yet established.

I don’t want to let her go. Without her in my arms, I feel bare, stripped of my shield, but in her room I finally settle her in the crib. I kiss her velvety brow, and breathe in her milky sweetness. It is time to prepare breakfast.

I know the routine. It has been practised in my head like a school play until the very last line. The kettle will boil and I’ll pour scalding water into the pot. I will listen to it gurgle through the soft paper of the teabags. I will pour a cup quickly, I don’t like it too strong, before swirling a cirrus cloud of milk into the Ceylon brew.

There will be a choice of fruit, a peach or an orange, cream cheese and quince jam.

The newly sharpened bread knife will slice as smoothly through the crusty loaf like butter.

You make your bed and you lie in it.

This morning you deserve only this.


Flash Fiction by Louise Mangos
Picture: Tea Set by Ryan Hyde under CC BY-SA 2.0
Leave a Comment

Hands Free

Valere says he can orgasm simply by meditating on being fucked. He says when he goes down deep into himself, he doesn’t need to hand-pump himself up like a truck tyre. He says he can put one up, stiff as a wild pony, and come—hands free.

Angel pisses herself, says “can you believe this guy?” Laughs so much that tears run down her fat, freckled face.

Angel’s like that with Valere when she’s high as cheesecake. Goes without saying Valere is gay. Only a homo could say something fucking unbelievable like that, get a girl all juiced up, then she puts her arms around his neck and eats him like ice-cream. What if I said I could make myself come just by thinking about the checkout girl. She wouldn’t send me like some butt-licking errand boy to the store for a bottle and skins then would she. She wouldn’t think it was so damn funny then, wouldn’t pull me onto her kitchen floor to get laid.

That’s what Valere’s thinking of when he meditates—my tight ass. And I’ll bet Angel wishes it was Valere’s queenie weenie inside of her when we fuck.

She says, “You are so fucking awesome, Valere. Isn’t he awesome?”

“Yeah, he’s so fucking awesome.” Shit, I hate that queer. No wonder he can come hands free—she’s pushed his dick down my throat enough times, in one way of speaking.

“Valere read me some of his poetry today.”

“Valere brought us over some of his muffins.”

This crap is going to make me puke. Everything of Valere’s makes me want to puke, his yoga mat, his dork poetry, his ball-sack muffins. I’m going down the store for more beers, hit on the checkout girl. Her jeans are so tight you can see how close she’s shaved it. She gave me a look. Yeah. I’ll bet she don’t go for fag poets like Valere. I reckon she wants to milk me till I’m running on empty. I can score girls like her all day long—eyes closed, hands free.


Flash Fiction by Steven John
Leave a Comment

Car by Car

Betty was a curvaceous coupe, customised with gleaming chrome. She arrived on the heels of your rough-edged street girls: a shining temptress.

But I had fond memories of cruising along the seafront in your rust-stained Datsun, lured by the lights that danced on the water.

Then came the Triumph with her retro elegance. After our wedding your friends tied beer cans to the exhaust, and we lost them one by one until all that remained was a tangle of ribbons.

The Granada came next; the reluctant beast that needed a bump start every morning when you left for work. The car that saw me stood halfway down the street in my slippers, smiling as you waved through the sunroof.

Then Betty. The only car to be given a name. Betty was a bargain, you said, we’d be fools not to snap her up. And we soon found out why she was so cheap—whilst parked at the roadside she’d been written off by a drunk driver.

Perhaps she was jinxed, or maybe it was coincidence, but from the day you brought Betty home she was a witness to our meltdown, and her imperfect chassis became the emblem of our undoing.

You lost your job and started drinking, stayed out late and came home angry. You begged forgiveness and then did it all again. We were running on empty.

And then you told me you were in love with the barmaid from the Blacksmiths Arms. I broke down, and we broke up.

The weekend you left, I drove recklessly around the village, barefoot and drunk, until I crashed into the farm wall.

You let them tow Betty to the scrap yard, and just like all the other cars before her, she left with a tiny part of us still inside. The final part. Now we were a write-off too.


Flash Fiction by Mandy Huggins
Picture: bumper by Tracy under CC BY 2.0
Leave a Comment