Tag Archives: flash fiction

A Flash on Friday

Back in March of this year I posted an old flash fiction of mine, The Fly.  Well, while I was browsing through some of my previous work today I came across another, written in August 2005, that I’d like to share with you.  It’s called House of Cards and was first published in Word Riot in October of the same year.  While my writing has always been dark, this was written while I was experimenting with my “literary” voice and style.

HOUSE OF CARDS
by Steven J. Dines

We meet in the beachfront games arcade because they don’t like you going there.  I let you lose on the slots, rolling my eyes and handing over change as required.  The summers get longer and hotter every year.  The Earth’s a pressure cooker.  Just the other week, there was a tornado in Birmingham.  You look good tonight, by the way.

We drive to a place even the doggers haven’t sniffed out yet.  It’s the most secret place in the world.  Exclusively ours, I whisper.  Insects watch us through the rear window.  An African child dies in the time it takes me to peel off your white panties.  I snap my fingers, another, damn it, snap again, another… and your bra’s undone.  Somewhere in the world a hole is filling up.

You don’t want to dance, you say.  I’ve only done a few steps.  Okay, what about some music?  Yes!  Oh, yes!  And you’re headlong through the seat gap for the radio buttons on the dash.  You find Britney Spears as I reach for the moon.  The windows are steaming up.

You weep and tell me how you lied in all our private rooms.  And how much you’re sorry.  You’re sorry? I say.  Can you even spell ‘irony’?  Have they taught you that yet?  With your cherry lips you beg forgiveness from my skin.  I’m lost in the back of your head, stroking your hair, wondering who you’ve got in there instead of big old me—some scrawny teenage boy-crush, perhaps.  I can feel the silver wires on your teeth.  Nelly raps on the radio, Hot In Herre.  Prolonging the ecstasy and the agony, I spell it in my mind for you: I-R-O-N-Y…

You leave the car grown yet diminished.  I offer to drop you somewhere, but you’ll walk, you’ll be alright, you don’t need a lift or taxi or bus fare or anything else.  “Good idea,” I say, smiling.  “Buses blow up these days.”  But you’re walking not listening.

I return to a house of cards and a blank, white stare from the PC screen in the corner.  I miss the whirrs and bleeps of the arcade already.  I switch on the television then fall back on the double-bed that was too small then and is too big now.  There’s a shallow concavity in the mattress, barely noticeable, although to me it’s a gaping hole.  I like to run my hand along it: down, up, down.  God, even the mattress can’t forget.  On the TV, a panel discuss the ozone layer and global warming.  The summers get longer and hotter every year.  Last December, the tsunami killed many thousands of people.  I make that a lot of zeroes.  An instant message alert yanks me across the room to the computer.  I wonder which one it is now.  And if she’s lying.

Either way, I don’t care.

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Free Fiction: The Fly

A few posts ago I mentioned a free story.  So, here’s a flash fiction I wrote in 2006.  It first appeared in the ezine Shadowed Pathways in June of that year and then as a PDF download from Dark Reveries in December, again, same year.  Both magazines are now defunct, unfortunately.  It’s an oldie of mine, but I think it holds a certain…charm.

THE FLY
by Steven J. Dines

I hate Caitlyn and flies. I hate how you land casually on her dinner plate and gorge yourself on her half-eaten Penne with pink vodka sauce. And I hate the sound of the rain rapping on our apartment window like a thousand of your associates, all of them desperate to get inside. The swatter whistles as I bring it down on the plate, and you vanish like a fleck of dust blinked from my eye. I wonder if you were ever there. I swat again, and tubes of pasta fall to the carpet like spent shells.

Ah, there you are. Up there. Boxing the ceiling light when a circle or an ellipse would make more sense. Christ, even insects contradict me. I take a wild swing and there’s a loud pop and suddenly the room is plunged into darkness. You buzz past my ear and I start cursing her for leaving, for not giving a good enough reason, for boxing around my pleas.

In the bedroom, I hunt for a flashlight, but when I hear you buzz into the room behind me I turn around. You land, nearly camouflaged, on the tip of a black-topped biro.

Caitlyn liked to steal pens. If she saw one lying unattended on a desk at work, she took it because she thought it was lonely. She would’ve become one of those old women who take in stray cats. Me, I would’ve remained one of those old men who think they’re vermin. Maybe she was right about us being wrong. Now I don’t know what the future holds. She’s left four coffee mugs of lonely pens lying on her dresser. Squatting on the pen tip, you flex your wings. The swatter comes down hard and fast, and when I check it I’m disappointed to find you’re not slowly peeling away from the underside. Meanwhile, the pens are everywhere.

I follow you into the white-tiled bathroom. It is easier to see you in here; easier to swing. I remember Caitlyn tried to yank me away from the toilet when I dangled the silver necklace I bought her for our second anniversary. “Don’t. Give it back. It doesn’t belong to you.” According to her, nothing belonged to me. I let go of the necklace and she surged forward, pushed me aside, and then thrust her arm into the toilet water. I grabbed a fistful of her hair and punched her face against the rim. The necklace faded under water quickly turning red.

I see you.

There, on the back of Caitlyn’s neck.

My bane.

I raise the swatter, take aim, and bring it down. There is a loud, satisfying, but cold snap.

“Got you,” I say, the words echoing off the tiles.

That toilet seat’s been up three days now. She used to complain about me leaving it like that. So, I put it down—with her still lodged under there and too large, right now, to flush.

I loved that woman.

But I hate the flies.