TWO FLASH FICTIONS
by Mercedes Lawry
In the pink glimmer streaking the bottom of the sky, crows stuttered east in pursuit of their resting place. The woman looked up and thought how they seemed right where they should be and sure of the journey. She was not. If this was a journey, it was a fractured, unsure turmoil of one. And the end of it might be soon and brutal and would erase everything that had gone before. Curled in a nook of old concrete at the overgrown end of a park she hoped was mostly forgotten, she was wrapped in a blanket she’d been given, slate gray and speckled with something that had been recycled and was now the cloak of the homeless. She’d brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the drop-in center—supper. That morning she’d told the volunteer that her son had died and now she was lost and didn’t know how she’d go on and thank you very much for your hospitality. There were no tears. She’d cried herself out. She carried a small knife not for protection but because it was handy, even if it kept her out of the shelter which was fine by her. She was tired of the stink. Tomorrow, if she was still breathing, she’d stop in at St. Agatha’s and see if they had any socks. Socks didn’t last long in street life. Before things had fallen apart, she’d had a whole drawer full of socks. Everyone had a sock drawer, didn’t they? And when a single sock went missing in the laundry, it was annoying, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
I was going to the doctor and I fell and broke my arm and the dogs were elated to see me back so soon, but saddened when the medics arrived and came into the house, stirring the normally calm air of our little family. The dogs were sorry for my pain and confused by the disruption but not knowing my diagnosis, which was not at all hopeful, they were not struck by this “minor” incident being a sort of insult in the light of a “major” incident waiting around the corner as I was. I had no reason to believe the dogs had any notion my end was nigh but I wouldn’t put it past them to take the route of denial. Yes, some dogs live their lives in gleeful oblivion, the la-di-da dogs, the lucky dogs. One of mine fit this category; the other exists on a higher plane and would indeed be of greater comfort in the days to come. But now, the dogs were locked into the immediate, trying to make sense of these clipped and efficient visitors huddling around me. No doubt some of this disturbance would linger in the shallows of their brains after I’d been hauled off in the ambulance and they were tucked up in their corner of the kitchen, patiently awaiting my return. Meanwhile, I was having my bone assessed and cursing myself for the stumble over no discernible impediment and thinking I must cancel my appointment with the doctor’s office—those kind people who delivered the bad news with a touch of grace. They may be thinking something far worse than a broken bone had occurred. It would, in fact, be some time before Death came to call. There’s a word few are comfortable saying aloud, when it might turn out to be the greatest relief of all.
Mercedes Lawry has published short fiction in several journals, including Gravel, Cleaver, Garbanzo, and Blotterature and was a semi-finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016. She’s published poetry in journals such as Poetry, Nimrod, & Prairie Schooner and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times. She has a book forthcoming from Twelve Winters Press. Additionally, she’s published stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle.
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