Alone in 6 Parts

Process: Flash Fiction

“I developed this creative writing exercise as a way to help foster new ideas and break writer’s block. The method is simple — take or chose an image, it can be anything that moves you, from a photo to a painting or a character etc. Once you’ve chosen your inspiration, give yourself only 15–20 minutes and simply write a piece of fluid and unedited fiction using the visual as a prompt. This exercise can be used to stimulate both academic and creative writing. Allow yourself to fall into the process and see what manifests.”

Flash Fiction # 6

Luna slipped out the back door that lead into the alleyway. She looked up as the cobblestone streets began to flood with morning light. The curtains above remained closed and she exhaled deeply. The liquor from the night before spun her head backwards and she looked down at a body of paper. Her face raw with living.

Luna kissed Tomas deeply at the bar, sucking him in, licking his teeth, just so she would never forget his taste. Her companion, the weathered leather Singer bag leaned patiently against the crooked staircase. Before walking away, Luna pulled out a limp cigarette and closed her eyes. She knew it was time, that unless she disappeared, he would erode. Blowing smoke over her shoulder, she thought of all the lies she sewed; the calculated abuse of white bottle caps and rolled bills in public restrooms. All the mornings she lumbered into his room and fell only to be picked up and pulled close with hands drenched in worry. Luna was disintegrating; paper like skin. All the ones who came before bowed down like a fresh deck of cards. It sicken her, the cycle. Flicking the cigarette into the street, she got up, picked up her bag and ran.

Flash Fiction # 5

He kept murmuring to himself over and over again that the only one he ever loved was her. “I can’t erase her from my mind. I just replay our failure. I think about it all the time.” He went outside often to smoke and try to breathe. It was like clockwork. Every night he went through the same motions; destroying his mind with the same questions, “Did he make your heart beat faster than I could? Did he give you everything you hoped for? He wondered aloud if she was comfortable and hated himself for still caring.

The man was always alone and I spent my nights watching him from afar. I heard him from my window berating himself, usually repeating the same words, “Did he make your heart beat faster than I could?” “Did I make your heart beat at all?” Bathed in a sickly yellow light, the man appeared as if he had been drawn into a mistake. I never went down to him. He didn’t know that I existed. Though, I secretly hoped he knew that there was someone close looking over him. Every night he rocked with sadness a little more violently. Sometimes it scared me. I constantly wondered what she must have been like in order to turn a man into ancient ruins.

In the end though, I realized that he was one of the lucky ones. His pain was raw and rare. It soon became sadly beautiful to me and I envied his historic scrolls. I have always kept myself hidden; the outsider looking into lived lives. But, that night, I stepped down from my sill and locked the window.

I never opened it again.

Flash Fiction # 4

Browned water dripped slowing through the wooden beams above into a steel pan by his feet. Reed was sitting at his writing desk staring forward noting the wounds in the wall. He had lived in that room for so long that at night, and in complete darkness, he could find his glasses.

Reed worked as an obituary writer for the local paper. Every morning a list of names arrived at his doorstep. In the beginning, he would stare for hours at each hand-written name and brief description trying to cobble together a breathing story. He wanted them to be more than the part of the paper you hid between bus seats. But that was years ago. Now, he simply looked out the window with glass eyes and watched people live while his pen curved paper alone. Reed knew that these names were more alive then him.

One day I came in to sweep the floors and take away the old sheets. I looked over my shoulder and noticed him scribbling something on the back of a worn green book.

The day the dripping stopped, and he was gone. I turned the book over. He had left it behind as if to serve as a marker of his existence. It was a simple quote by Thoreau, not even something by his own hand; “How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.”

I closed the door behind me and sat down.

Flash Fiction # 3

It was not yet winter, but everything was already dead. I sat inside next to the radiator, which was holding onto its own bones. Wrapping one hand over my right fist, I blew through the tunnel in my hands for a brief reprieve. I saw him running towards me from outside. I kept hoping he wouldn’t fall. The thought of Dean in pain made my chest cave in. Once I could feel my fingers again, I began tracing our initials on the cold window pane. I held my knees close to my body and waited for him to brush his frozen cheek against mine.

I was always waiting for him. When we were kids, he never let me out of his sight. Even while taking the train from east Brooklyn, he would keep me in a corner of the carriage so no one could touch me. I loved living behind his veil.

As we grew older though, I noticed all his tears; too deep to sew up. That morning, Dean refused to let me come with him. So I just waited for him across the street in a dim lit cafe until it was over. I spent hours looking out the window watching people miserably try to navigate the sludge. Helping one another jump over puddles. I guess it was after lunch time when he finally came for me. His shoulders hung like sagging sails, he looked like my father before he passed away. Dean leapt over a thin sheet of ice and looked up at me. His knees buckled beneath him. I hurriedly untangled my body and slammed the windowpane with both hands.

Flash Fiction #2

The morning broke through itself and she walked out of the house bleary eyed and damp with sweat. Inside, she felt an insatiable pang. The hunger for intangible things had returned. And as she drank milk from the carton, it ran down her shirt and over her bare legs. She made a mess on the ground but didn’t notice.

She hated that home. It smelled like cheap rye whisky and stale food. When she walked back inside towards the corroded fridge, she held her breath. Her chest tight. Smoking broken lungs. Back in the yard, sunlight pierced her eyes and again she missed her mouth. The whole gallon flowed over her body and into her socks. Only a small amount made it inside her. The girl was trying to fill herself to make the pangs go away. She was hungry for something so that day she covered herself in everything.

Flash Fiction #1

He thought her body resembled a horse’s head. Silently she curved her back, turned on her side and clenched one hand into the other. He stayed in bed watching her chest slowly rise and fall in rhythm with the hands of the clock. Guiltily the man asked himself if he ever loved her. The thought made him feel suddenly very cold and numb. Moving closer, he reached for her bare torso. Already, he could feel her familiar warmth coating the creases of the bed. But in the darkness his hands met nothing. He quickly stood up and pulled the bedding away. All that was left were their sheets breathing on the floor.

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