By Andrew Kozma
We found the beached humpback whale still glistening from the morning fog. It breathed hard and deep and ragged, its chest an old, moth-eaten bellows. The air wheezed between its baleen. Joe’s dog Joe Jr. sniffed the whale’s mouth and whined and jigged about, eager to get inside.
But the whale wasn’t going to die. We wouldn’t let it. We looked into its liquid, almost melting eyes and whispered comforts as we dug trenches in the sand to guide the water around its flanks and ease the whale’s flatbed of a body back into the Atlantic with the rising tide.
It took a while for the sea to reclaim the whale. We watched it the entire time. It didn’t feel right to abandon it before it could abandon us. And it watched us, too, with its alien whale-face. We were gratitudeless, but we didn’t do it for the gratitude. Joe spent half the time preventing Joe Jr. from pissing into the trenches we’d dug.
Then it was gone, slid backwards into its home, a majestic re-entrance. Joe called it pathetic, but I know he meant it in terms of pathos.
We both knew we’d never see anything so strange and unnerving again.
Continue reading “ISSUE 30: JUNE 2021”
Our second print anthology
is coming soon…
We are excited to reveal the title and cover art for our second print anthology, Branching Out: International Tales of Brilliant Flash Fiction.
Cover photo by Laurie Scavo * Cover design by Karen Morgan
A big thank you to our authors whose work has been chosen for Brilliant Flash Fiction’s second print anthology Branching Out:
Kathryn Aldridge-Morris * AllOneWord *Ugochukwu Anadị * Madeline Barrett * Joe Baumann * Roberta Beary * Paul Beckman * Liz Betz * John Brantingham * John Burns * Helen Chambers * Robert Clinton * Caleb Collier * A.K. Cotham * Charlotte Crowder * Dr. Meghashri Dalvi * Salvatore Difalco * Corina DiOrio * Matthew Duffus * Catherine Edmunds * Mel Fawcett * Gary Fincke * David Galef * Joe Giordano * H.T. Grossen * Elad Haber * Corrie Haldane * Andrew Hughes * Meagan Johanson * Stephen Johnson * Ben Johnston * Sara Jordan-Heintz * Maddie King * Jennifer Lai * Claire Lawrence * Minh-Tam Le * Amanda Lieser * Phil Lindeman * Marc Littman * Martin Lochman * Craig Loomis * Alison McBain * Linda McMullen * Erika Loughran MacNeil * Amy Marques * Kate Maxwell * Mari Maxwell * Elaine Mead * Terri Mullholland * Donna J.W. Munro * Cheryl Pappas * Adrian S. Potter * Scott Ragland * Charles Rammelkamp * Nancy Pica Renken * Karen Rigby * Terry Sanville * Connor Sassmannshausen * Robert Scott * Robert Scotellaro * Shoshauna Shy * Jaspal Kaur Singh * Lucy Smith * Dhara Son * David J. Walker * Stuart Watson * M.J. Weisen
Stay tuned for details on pre-ordering!
Footprints in Fine White Ash
By Michael Kozart
The day Darlene pulled up to Jack’s, she was facing a night in a shelter or the car. She had searched the county for an affordable room. Rents were soaring. This was the last resort.
It was a ranch home, with crumbling chimney and faded pink aluminum siding, out of place on a rural road with vineyards and mansions. Darlene knocked on the screen door. “Jack Elmer? We spoke on the phone.”
There was cursing and he appeared: sweat stains, stubbled jowls, a clump of masking-tape around the angle of his glasses. He looked her up and down.
“Is the room still open?” she asked.
Jack opened the door. Inside, there was the strong smell of cannabis and pork fat. Down a dim hall with dusky carpet, he gestured to a room. “Thousand, first of the month. Take or leave.” Continue reading “ISSUE 29: MARCH 2021”
By Ravibala Shenoy
When my baby sister was a few days old, my grandmother showed me the soft spot on her head, how we had to be careful not to hurt her there. She said, my mother was going to be busy with the baby, and I should not mind because I was four-and-a-half years old, the big sister.
My mother’s thirteen-year-old brother tormented me with stories of Ghooghooms who he said roamed my grandmother’s house and garden. When night came, he‘d put a flashlight in his mouth and cover himself with a bedsheet and he’d go thump, thump, through the house making sounds like an owl, and I’d run away shrieking. It was no use telling my mother because she lay limp in bed with the baby.
One day, when my sister was sleeping, I brought from the kitchen the brass pestle that my grandmother used to grind peppercorns. My sister lay in a winnowing basket swaddled in a blanket. Her chest rose and fell with her breath and her round face and shiny hair looked as peaceful as a lake. Just as I was about to hit with the pestle the soft spot my grandmother had told me about, she ran in breathless and grabbing the pestle from my hand, pushed me away. Continue reading “ISSUE 28: JANUARY 2021”
For a $100 donation, Brilliant Flash Fiction is offering a rare 5-session online flash fiction workshop with Assistant Editor Ed Higgins, limited to 20 students. Don’t miss this opportunity to improve your flash writing with a master teacher, open to international students at all levels.
When: January 23, 2021; January 30; February 6; February 13; February 20 at noon Pacific Standard Time. Use this link to convert to your time zone: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?iso=20201220T130000&p1=202
It’s done! We raised $1,575 to finance our 2021 print anthology, thanks to the 39 heroic backers of our month-long Kickstarter project. THANK YOU ALL. Watch this website for further anthology developments. (If you subscribe to Brilliant Flash Fiction, you will receive automatic email updates.)
Brilliant Flash Fiction will celebrate a happy Christmas this year, and we wish the same to our generous supporters.
On-the-Spot Writing Contest Winner
Thanks also go out to the brave participants of our virtual on-the-spot writing challenge. These writers were given one hour in which to write a story based on the prompt “Race,” created by First Reader Kari Redmond, who hosted a Zoom session attended by an international audience.
We received 30 entries at the end of an hour, and the winner is Hannah Whiteoak. Her story, After the Race, will appear in our January 31 issue and she will be paid the standard $20 fee for publication. Congratulations, Hannah!
Continue reading “KICKSTARTER SUCCESS”
IAN IN GLASGOW
By Madalyn Aslan
We’re all in the little guy’s car on Belswain’s Lane when Ian tells me his dad is in Broadmoor, prison for the criminally insane. I tell him I was born a bastard and we are poor. Ian counters, “But you’re rich in looks.” And I am like, man!
So we fall in love. He’s thirteen like me and looks like an angel and is going to be a playwright when he grows up. I love his hands. In the pub he talks about books with my mother. We discuss, seriously, names to give our future children. His mother Mae is a joyful drunk, fat and sexy in a tight flower dress, always coughing and laughing. She and my mother light up cigarettes with great animal sighs. My mother says she is from Scotland. So Ian is, too. After the little guy breaks it off with Mae, that’s where she and Ian disappear back to. Continue reading “ISSUE 27: SEPTEMBER 2020”
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. Continue reading “ISSUE 26: JUNE 2020”
By Cody Pease
Michel waters the plants in rotations. He starts with the tillandsias hanging in the copper-wire cages, then the oreganos and vanilla orchids near the south-facing window, then the begonia on the dining room table. The succulents need to be split, and the philodendrons need more sunlight. His hands are too weak to lift the watering pot; instead, he uses a wine glass like I showed him. It’s a small task to strengthen his muscles. “How are you doing?” His movements are slight and slow, but he smiles. “Well,” he says. I’m afraid to press him further. I leave him to water, then I peel the sweet potatoes for dinner. Continue reading “ISSUE 25: MARCH 2020”