Portrait of a Young Woman During Quarantine
By Darcy Casey
Ten at night and the woman’s stomach rumbles; sleep is impossible when her insides have so much to say. She turns under her blankets, a crocodile rolling in a kill’s final moments, but nothing dies except her resolve. She peels the ruined blankets from her body, careful not to wake her husband. From her guts rises a more insistent growl. The stomach, itself a cavernous brain, knows where she is going and is glad. She walks and, reflecting on the day, is pleased to realize she has not eaten a full meal. But wait: can this be true? She considers. It is true. (more…)
Maggie and I lived in a prim white house at the intersection of Maple Road and Main Street, and when she left to teach every morning, I’d stay home and stare out the front window because I lost my job at the bank. It’s a busy crossing, particularly when children are walking to and from Fielding Elementary School, where Maggie once taught fifth grade. The crosswalk is marked by a plastic stop sign in the middle of the road, with a capitalized warning for cars to stop for pedestrians. Yet drivers zoom by, narrowly missing people. I’d bang on the windowpane occasionally, to no effect. I don’t like that kind of response, as Maggie well knew. After enough mornings, I left the house and crossed the street, taking my time. I crossed back again. I waved my arms, getting in the motorists’ faces, forcing them to stop. (more…)
Grocery Shopping With My Dead Mother
By Jodi Freeman
Under the store’s florescent lights I see that this handwritten recipe for Chicken and Dumpling Soup is as fragile as dry butterfly wings. The creases are as good as rips. The page is the color of rancid butter, dotted with grease marks, marred by years of being folded into fourths and stored with 3X5 cards and Good Housekeeping clippings in the unremarkable yellow plastic box.
I snuck my mother’s recipe box out of my father’s house with the other kitchen items I took to my first on-campus apartment. Not that he wouldn’t share it with me, but he would have insisted the artifact itself remain safe at home. I didn’t trust myself to explain that I’m hollow and imagine my mother’s food will fill me. Everyday things that will hold my skin to my bones. Won’t articulate that these recipes may be the letter she never left, explaining what I needed to know about being a woman that she didn’t live to tell me. (more…)
I was sitting in class staring at Mr. Takashi writing algebra in big loopy lettering on the chalkboard when the bomb landed. He was wearing a short-sleeved white cotton shirt with black slacks that billowed around his skinny legs and a pair of black-rimmed glasses that perched on the bridge of his rubbery nose.
I’m not sure why I can remember him so vividly now. It was just an ordinary school day and me and my thirty or so classmates had no idea when we filed into trigonometry that morning that this day would change our lives.
But somehow every minute detail of that day is seared into my memory, like it’s a part of me and I’m a part of it. And so my life became divided in two—those childhood days that came before the bomb and the days that marched onwards defiantly after. The bomb itself is somehow outside of my life now, like a break in a paragraph, instead of a chapter in itself. (more…)
Nancy would later tell anyone who asked that she escaped the hailstorm by ducking into the first available open door, which happened to lead into a church. She’d been making her way back home slowly, switching her purse from the crook of her right arm to the crook of her left and back again as they got tired of the weight. It was just bad luck that there’d been such a massive storm, so uncharacteristic for February, on that exact day, when her purse was so heavy. She was carrying Walter’s favorite book, his glasses and hers, a thermos still half full of black tea, an empty Tupperware (she despised hospital food), her billfold, her house keys, a packet of Kleenex, a packet of mints, a small leather pouch with all her regular medication (the Lipitor and the diuretics and the aspirin), and her cell phone. It was a lot for such a small, feminine bag. (more…)
This writing contest was a lot of fun for the staff at Brilliant Flash Fiction. The entries were judged in-house and provided us with months of reading pleasure. We would like to thank the 350 writers who took the time to share their creativity and brilliance with us. Choosing a shortlist and three prize-winners was a difficult task.
First Prize: LIGHT THE DAMN FIRE by Eileen Malone Second Prize: Calculus by Suzanne Freeman Third Prize: Gustav Mahler’s Nipples by Laton Carter
Assistant Editor Ed Higgins’ comments: As novelist and short-story writer Richard Harding Davis observed: “The secret of good writing is to say an old thing a new way or to say a new thing an old way.” Eileen Malone’s story carries the marks of both. The plot and plotting of the betrayed vengeful wife is, of course, a much repeated tale. Malone reinfuses this old nugget with a realism of setting as well as giving her protagnist-narrator a believable infusion of emotional hurt by a betraying husband. All of which sets the story up for the “new thing” twist on good ‘ol revenge. In the couple’s get-away cabin the wife sets alight the stuffed fireplace—but with the vent closed. (more…)
Many thanks to the 180 writers who entered our contest and to Judge Adam Kluger who created the art prompt and volunteered his time to select three prizewinners.
First Prize: The Lion’s Tooth by Nell Jenda Second Prize: A Night With Old Friends by Chris Espenshade Third Prize: Infinite Morning by Alyson Hilbourne
Judge: Adam Kluger
Theme: Art Prompt
A quick note to thank you so much for participating in the Art Prompt Writing Contest. It is such an honor to have so many talented writers participate.
In my opinion there are 180 winners. Each entry I’ve had the pleasure to read is making its own very strong argument for recognition. But contests being what they are, only three of you will win prizes.
So what was actually going on in the painting? In case you are curious—the painting shows a writer sitting by himself in deep thought at a diner (The New Amity Diner in NYC) with a red-nosed waiter named Frankie stationed behind him. The painting was rendered in charcoal pencil with pastels and some water-color mixed in to create a grainy feel. On the ceiling is a old fashioned fan emitting some yellow light. That’s it.
I wondered what kind of “closure” did Jean think she was going to get?
YOU ARE FEMALE & DRIVE
A RED CAR.
YOU RAN OVER MY CAT
ON WINGRA STREET
PLEASE CALL JEAN.
NEED HELP WITH CLOSURE
I came across this notice the week that Eric, my boyfriend-since-high-school, suddenly moved out of our apartment to follow an Edgewood College grad to Schenectady, New York. Apparently, someone’s cat darted into danger, a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What was there to explain or describe—unless apathy meant the driver didn’t brake or she actually went out of her way to hit the animal. But who would fess up to that?
I pictured Jean barely out of her teens, just a few years younger than me, stapling laminated notices to phone poles outside of The Yellow Platter, a neighborhood café. I had started going there for breakfast so I wouldn’t have to start the day alone. I imagined her returning to an empty apartment where a catnip bunny lay under a chair, saw her reaching instinctively for fur among the bedcovers at 3 AM. I doubted that meeting the red car phantom would make 3 AM’s any easier. (more…)