CAROL PARCHEWSKY: Tan Lines at the Funeral

Flash Fiction by Carol Parchewsky

                                                  Mind The Gap

You had a choice. It was simple, like black or white, stirred or shaken. But you chose grey, just poured cement grey on Tuesday in November. You said you understood. But you didn’t. Not really. I wanted to go home. You wanted Cuba. An amazing package deal. I hadn’t seen my family for 20 months and ten days. But you wanted sun. You said compromise. Christmas on the beach, New Year’s Day in Des Moines. My mom was in the ICU Boxing Day, intubated. Pronounced dead before the line-up ended at Best Buy. I had tan lines at the funeral.

                                        Mother Nature Knows

Grass grew under your feet crawling up your red chucks obliterating the white sole with streaks of vivid green. On the day we signed the papers, the grass shriveled and decayed in an instant. The soles turned brown, shit brown to be exact, like that time we went for a walk in the Hague and well, between the gum and the shit, you stepped in it metaphorically and physically. You didn’t like the mist in March, the dampness that permeated your brittle bones. You preferred Las Vegas with the sizzle and lights. The baby blossomed like a tulip in spring.

                              Exposure Exhibition on Monday

Inside my house there is a warm body. Inside the body there is blood pooling in the veins. Inside the blood there is oxygen. Inside the oxygen there are sunlight beams from the morning. Inside the sunlight beams there are words of desperation. Inside the desperate words there are letters from the alphabet. Inside the alphabet there are emotions and gossamer colors bubbling. Inside the bubble there is a brilliant world disrupted. Inside the world there is a town called Gratitude. Inside Gratitude there is a street of fools. Inside the fool is a lost soul looking for a body.

                                        Are You the Monster?

Katherine or Katie as everyone called her was the girl in the neighborhood with the popular dad who everyone wanted to be friends with. She became a cheerleader and class president. She took photos with the Lieutenant Governor. She lived half a block away, just up the hill. You and her had play dates and went to the same preschool and kindergarten. You even walked to kindergarten with your mom and her across the empty field that later became a freeway. That day there was a dead sparrow next to a yellow pill bottle. That afternoon, the caterpillars began to drop from the birch trees spiraling down their gossamer threads. You cried and ran screaming. The caterpillars scared you. You didn’t realize yet that Katie was going to be the reason you stopped having birthday parties at the age of five. That you would be the joke of the classroom and that she would organize the classmates to place wads of gum in your gym shoe. You would still defend her when the teacher accused her of defacing the blackboard and sent her to the principal’s office. You would say, she was outside playing tetherball with Lucy and Becca at recess and that you saw her. That was the only time you would mention her to the teacher.

Years later you would find out that first her mom passed away from cancer, and then her dad. She moved away from your hometown not just to another province like you did to reinvent yourself, but to another country. You’ve become “friends” on Facebook and you wonder if her children are like her or you, and whether she has looked back on her childhood and wondered what became of you, were your eyes still poppie-outie or not, were you still a shadow scrunched against the wall hidden from the sunlight she was bestowed.

Tomorrow the monster will remember that little girl with brown hair and glasses so thick they were like the bottom of a coke bottle when she holds her grandchild, Karen, crying, after her first day of grade two at her new school, when Lauren, the blond-haired future cheerleader cut off Karen’s ponytail so that she maybe wouldn’t look so much like a horse with buck teeth. You will start to smile and raise your arm to fist pump your younger self and stop as tears flood. You will add a care emoji to the post and type, “What a monster!” You will check hourly to see if she responds. To see if she says sorry. To see if she remembers.

Carol Parchewsky is a writer based in Canada. She received her MFA in Fiction at Queens University of Charlotte. She is working on a novel and a short story collection. Her fiction is published and forthcoming in Burningword Literary Journal, On the Run, Flash Boulevard, Drunk Monkeys, Stanchion, and The Drabble Advent Calendar

Flash Boulevard is edited by Francine Witte. Banner photograph Wes Candela.

Published by poetrybay

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