Flash Fiction by Melissa Flores Anderson

Braced Against

It is not true that Pandora’s box once opened can never be closed. It is more that all the forbidden, the broken bits, edges jagged like wild benitoite, get jangled with the polished, the beautiful, the delicate bits of life. It is impossible to pull the threads of sweetness apart from the detritus, to put them in my pocket and carry them with me at sunrise. And so instead, I lock the bee’s nest and honey together in a fierce and cloying mess.

We retreat to talking about the weather. Here, the rain cuts against the glass and floods over the banks of the creek, but where you are the skies hang dry. Like the river, the distance between my want and your need grows twice as wide.

I tell myself a story. We never opened the box and looked inside. There is no moment when you first touched my face with a raw hand and lingered too long. There are not echoes of you in places you have never been, my memory neither a blessing nor a curse, your voice not in my ear undoing the tender things you said. No shadow of me against the blue ice with you adrift in the cold, the ring of my call piercing through the fields. My heart does not pulse like its shot through with bee venom every time I see your face.

I am not waiting for you to lift the lid, braced against the sting, even as I long for one more taste of your tongue.


Amelia shrugged her blazer off in the late afternoon, when the sun from the western-facing windows heated up the cubicles. As she hung up the jacket on a hook, Tyler wandered by on his way to the communal copier to print up reports and saw the edge of a pink bra strap. Amelia reached with an absentminded hand across her body from the left and tucked it under her sleeveless blouse.

Before that, Tyler had only noticed Amelia in a distracted way. She’d been with the team for a month and she sat in the far-left corner of the conference room for meetings. She never said a word. She took notes as though she might have a pop quiz on the agenda later in the day. He didn’t pay attention to women like her, the ones who adhered to the rules, the ones who never drank at a company party, who wore suit separates in neutral colors.

But something about that sliver of color under a gray shirt and a navy blazer shifted Tyler’s perspective. If the color had been black or white or nude, the sight of the strap wouldn’t have made a lasting impression. But now when he looked at Amelia, he got that same sense of vertigo he felt when he stood too close to the floor-to-ceiling windows of the 12-story building they worked in and looked straight down.

All he could think about now were the edges. The way the ends of her hair cut against her cheek in a sharp A-line, the softness of her neck revealed in back. The dark eyeliner against her lash line that made the gray outline around her blue eyes more blue, the crinkles that appeared there when she smiled. Her laughter that bounced off the glass of the windows and into the far corners of the cubicles.

When he was home alone, he thought about different edges. The way the hem of her skirt rode up her thighs when she sat in a conference room chair, how it would feel to press her against the lip of the kitchen counter in the breakroom, to let his fingers under the sleeve of her shirt, reaching toward that slip of pink.

For weeks, Tyler engaged her in polite conversation at the office, trying to gauge her level of interest in him. He had never been shy around a woman before, but with Amelia something more seemed to be at stake.

On a Friday morning, he walked up to a bank of elevators just as one was about to close and caught a glimpse of Amelia. She leapt forward to hold the door open for him.

“Thanks,” he said, the intimacy of being alone in an elevator with her tying up his


“Good morning, Tyler.”

The bell dinged at their floor and she stepped through the steel doors as Tyler braced himself to do what he had tried to do for weeks.


She turned back toward him, her hair a quick slash across her chin. And just as he opened his mouth to speak again, he caught a glimmer from her left hand as the sun edged up over the eastern foothills.

“Yes, Tyler?”

“Congratulations,” he said.


Louise heard the hound before she saw it. She watched as the owner let the dog loose to ignite terror in the birds and small mammals who sought peace in the early morning hour. Her own pulse sped up as though she might be prey, an ingrained response from long ago. As a jack rabbit zig zagged across the fuzz of green growth from a recent downpour, she was reminded that every creature fought for its own survival. She didn’t need to be rescued.

Back at home, she snuck by her husband’s departing kiss and turned on the shower. She sat on the rim of the bathtub and peeled off the running shorts that clung to her skin with sweat. Louise clutched her abdomen, soft and bloated, though she hadn’t eaten anything for days. She stared at the white cabinet as though she could see through it to the pack of untouched tests. She stepped into the water.

“Bunny, I’ll never let anyone catch us,” she said as she soaped the small curve of her belly. 

Melissa Flores Anderson is a Latinx Californian whose creative work has been published in Maudlin House, The Write Launch and Rejection Letters, among others. She was nominated for Best of the Net for CNF. She is a reader/editor for Roi Fainéant Press’ and has a novelette forthcoming from Emerge Literary Journal. Follow her: Twitter @melissacuisine or IG @theirishmonths.

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

Published by poetrybay

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One thought on “MELISSA FLORES ANDERSON: Hearing The Hound

  1. Great blog post! The way you use metaphor and sensory language is really captivating. I especially enjoyed “the polished, the beautiful, the delicate bits of life” juxtaposed with “the detritus” in the first paragraph. What inspired you to write these flash fiction pieces? Are they based on personal experiences or purely imaginary?

    y. e


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