Flash Fiction by Meg Tuite
Loose on the Bones
In her mouth like a man let this cage collapse. Shave, modulate at midnight. Again and again these predators strike. Bludgeon the soot of young girls. As they age and blur, uteruses become dumpster trash. Held together by something torn apart, animalesque. Squawks rasp from toothless trends. Crotchrot is a phenomenon. Strangers encroach, press into her space until decay. Scale fences. Bite off telephones with whispers of ‘kill’ ‘I see you’ ‘don’t forget me’. Tighten to refuse their owling eyes. Her hands unravel for the lives she used to sweat. No longer. Bed, this ancient of night, smother and repeat. Count her gone. Plunge into estrange. Vagrancy swallows behind tightened blinds. He watches. He waits.
There was the hum of stragglers, the musky odor of trash filled the air when his arm wrapped me. Kept me stranded among the so-called living. A thousand fists. Once, I struggled. Dark halls to motel rooms. I lied and stumbled into the truth. Don’t count on a hollow man dropping. Do not think to climb me, mister. Heard him lap at the wound. Sharp and unsung. Rough unbridled head I shook. Am I thawed from history? Locusts and fascists. Barren generations sucked the guns. Prevented my reflection from escape. Never unclenched the cramp of me. Left me counterfeit and divided.
Make No Mistake; Foretaste of Loss
Woods pucker and groan. Two kids start the drought. Two more. Then two more. Hysteria creeps deftly through screen doors and open windows. Shut, lock, shut, lock. Tiny towns gnaw through nights. Dark streets sandwich between porch lights.
A conscience makes it tough. First kid is soft corners with braids that smell of weeds, tides of pain with no polish. She’s a bumblebee, but wants to be a tree. I snatch her like a houseplant searches for sun, call her Oak. She devours adventurous books from the library. Tells me, “Mister, I’ve got six brothers and a whole pack of cousins, and you’ll never guess. I’m the only girl. Can you even…” I revel in her, until I don’t.
Second one staggers through grass, a nest of hair knots and venom. Spits and pummels. I smile and say, “Time to go home, honey,” as a lady passes and sighs. “Now, listen to your daddy, little girl,” shakes her finger, rolls her eyes and laughs. Just another holiday as this body migrates to the dank layers of pine and dead branches.
I’m a magnet for snarl and dispute. Unmoor in the city. Two go missing from the Bronx. The delicate disaster of overwrought parents keep me in flesh-flutter fruit. No one knows where anyone is anymore. Savage innocence is rampant and terror is well-fed. Let me give you the grave I walk on.
Our we not privy to the whine of zealous ministers who bombast silence in evil service to the theft of our precious, virtuous fuel.
Lower frequencies speak under eyelids. It’s a desolate journey of the colon’s weave of the wheel. Count backwards from three and time is neither skim nor splash. No doubt the subterfuge discovers itself in the passage. Light dims. The hunt is for mushrooms.
Assault on quantity of clutter. Mishmash of odor, dust, mold, or other types of structural damage. Hoarding extends beyond overstuffed homes. Health risks can damage families. Affect surrounding neighborhoods. Treating it requires more than boxes of trash bags.
People acquire things. If they no longer cook meals, can’t live safely at home, threaten others, that’s where it reeks of childhood.
Lie in a fetal position. Left side. Veins hem in like plucked eyebrows. Nurse pokes haggard digs, says if I drank the entire gallon of liquid laxative the vein would manifest as plump as a gorged vagina. An image lingers of: my face after mosquito bites, balloons, and yeast infections.
Shelter Me, Dark Artery
Bungle escape, batter of luggage wheels clack over cement, curse intention and vacancy. Pockmarks troll skin, suck blood out of scabs older than family. Shudder of hot and cold smother the weight of air she can’t get enough of. Nothing but pain winces ahead of her. No money, no home, no smokes, no time. Dying has come closer to her than this. Make the streets cushion people with baggies, tinfoil, lighters.
Oxycontin shaves on to tinfoil like a shot and a prayer. Sport me a light, honey. Slide right across silver spoons elixirs of gold. Hold tight. Keep the door shut on the lungs long.
Nice pull. No one leaks their genitals in her face this time. Can’t recall a gift this large without stealing.
Rehab is sleep storms and war deeper inside. Scratch at old creeps.
Man chokes, she begs.
Man calls men. Revolver entrance.
Man sharpens a hatchet. Cuts off her finger. Pay up.
Man landmines through her brain. She runs a soup kitchen for johns.
Intervention day: 2 kids, mom, dad, grandmother, some lady full of back talk.
A cackle of voices spread out:
“See her on the streets. Don’t tell anyone she’s my mom.”
“Took all my jewelry, when she had a key.”
“Can’t she get a fucking pair of dentures?”
“Look at her.”
“Cops used to send her back to us.”
“Dead before the room unnerves her.”
She finds some cardboard.
High sky meek with whispering clouds.
Remote world unwraps.
Soon the days will be severed.
Meg Tuite is author of four story collections and five chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging. She teaches writing retreats and online classes hosted by Bending Genres. She is also the fiction editor of Bending Genres and associate editor at Narrative Magazine. http://megtuite.com
Flash Boulevard is edited by Francine Witte. Banner photograph Wes Candela. All rights revert to the author,