The Distance Between

Do you ever envision an accident happening and then when it does, wonder if your vision made it come true, or if it was just inevitable and you were really only predicting or fearing a commonplace occurrence in the grand scheme of life?

Yesterday I was at my computer, like most mornings, having my cup of coffee while writing, and I thought, Boy, it’d really suck if I spilled this coffee all over my computer. I should back up all my work. Then lo and behold — commence spill, queue scream laced with profanity, then fill the air with the rich smell of bastardized coffee and self pity… Yep. After six years together, I killed Precious. Say hello to Precious 2.0.

Good news is I have a piece of flash fiction (about 500 words) over at Spelk today if you have time to read. Thank you to Gary Duncan for publishing The Distance Between Neighbors. I’m honored to be there!

Have a great week, and be sure to back up your work and maintain a healthy distance between coffee and computer!

“Polling Place” on The Drabble today

I know I’ve been MIA as of late, but today my piece “Polling Place” is on The Drabble.

As our exhaustingly long and contentious U.S. elections come to a close, we will continue to face division in our nation until we heal, listen and collectively stand up to hateful and misogynistic rhetoric. The work doesn’t end today, but it starts with voting.

On the House

bartender
The bartender wore the moodiness of the low lit bar in the threads of his jacket, the cut of his beard, reeking of a past with no future, like those towns with historical settings — all guides and reenactors.

Spiced with hops and the tacky scent of rag water from mopped tables, the ruby red room hung like an old portrait in a gilded frame, crooked and matted in oiled color. When stepping in, one had the sense it was best to wade through the thick air and carry the heaviness upon one’s back, for the stools were lined with slouched souls staring into amber ales with a comfortable dullness, a purge of everyday worry and care.

He perked up at the sound of the open door, the whine of hinges in need of lubrication, pouring drinks with a hand that shook with its own controlled temptation, smelling his demons, filling his throat with a blade, afraid of the pierce.

“What can I get you?” he asked the stranger who had entered, standing with rain in his hair, disheveled, as his eyes adjusted to the light.

“How did I end up in a place with no roads?” the man said in earnest, holding his hands out as if he were waiting for communion.

The bartender threw his rag over his shoulder, nodding with compassion. He gestured for the man to sit, pushing a drink in his direction.

“First one’s on the house.”

Madam’s Choice

portrait
Courtesy of Pixabay

 

Where there is beauty, there is a sense of entitlement, for beauty rarely goes undisturbed. It rises from birth, as cells align, configuring into handsome symmetry — thin-sloped nose, doe eyes, swollen lips — readying themselves for their strong, gravitational pull. It is intuitive, tangible. And utterly lazy.

I knew this before most, preferring the quiet canvas, drawn to one’s ability to hide in plain sight.

She sat alone, stabbing at her iceberg salad with a dull longing, her alabaster cheeks blooming red like old wounds as she ate. I saw her vagueness as a gift, along with her damp, downcast eyes, the round pitch of her jaw, reminding me of an unfinished sketch, pencil lines stopping midway, pulled in wistful directions. But unlike most ordinary girls, she framed her features into questions with no clear answers, stoking an unwilling to accept her fate. Questions like: who was she that day, with her eyes lined heavily in kohl, lips suggestive in a fleshy pink? Who was she willing to become?

She was, in essence, looking for someone to fill in the blanks she had created.

“What a beautiful scarf,” I said, approaching, pointing at the twist of green and gold threads.

She hadn’t noticed me watching her on the opposite side of the food court outside, drawing a crowd of professionals from neighboring buildings, businessmen I would turn into clients, recording their fetishes and kinks with secretarial skill. In this regard, she was like many other women stumbling through life, unaware of the shadows, still drawn to high school cool, the girls who grew cold and stale upon graduation, pale creatures, bloating with time and distance. Today, it was the medical assistants she’d been watching, smoking their cigarettes, held between acrylic nails, filed into points and painted with dizzy patterns. Huddled together in their colorful scrubs, they looked like alleycats, tugging at their gold hoop earrings, digging their clawed fists into their hips that would widen without the pinching reminder of elastic.

“Thank you,” she said, pulling at her scarf, as if it had snaked its way around her neck. She rested her plastic fork on her napkin, gesturing for me to sit, and together we struck up a conversation.

She was my first recruit, the beginning piece as I learned to cultivate charm and disarm even the most skeptical ladies.

Only then did I have a vague idea, I was creating an empire.

__________________________

Flash Fiction/Character Sketch
by S. S. Hicks