I’m revisiting old work, flash fiction in particular, and as we’re headed into the weekend, I thought of sharing one of them published a while ago. It is dark, quite befitting my current mood.
And the lights, they dancing, skittering on the black and white tiles, whispering through her in her mother’s voice from years ago, from when she was a child.
She glances up at the lighted balustrade, the stairs still in darkness, and greets the morning after a sleepless night. Four, he got four of them to her bed last night, her ‘husband.’ Four of them with paws for hands, dirt under the nails they shoved into her, their breath soured with cocaine, with ecstasy. He paid her mother a good price he said, and put her in this mansion. Now she must earn it out.
In her heart, the lightness of being empty. Her heart a frothy island of sludge after they drained it over the last few years, the months of pummeling despite her swollen stomach, and in the last few weeks she spent staying awake, being mashed to pulp when she should have been nursing. Her heart a dry thing now, hardening each night, with the sharpness, hardness, lightness of flint.
She takes the first step up the curved stairs, to where her girl lay asleep, tired after a night of hungry wails. He had shushed the baby last night: they don’t come to listen to keening puppies, he said. She tried to go up each time she got a break, but each time another came in through the door. No time to reach the attic.
She has all the time now, to look down at the dizzy-making tiles, their pattern of black and white diamonds whorling now, in her light-headed walk up the stairs. The pain in her thighs and her butt is a living thing, pushing, inwards, inwards. She croons to it, soon, soon, she sings, soon to sleep, soon.
The light warms her face. She would carry her girl, her daughter, her firstborn, her lastborn, to the top of the stairs. She would climb over the balustrade, the babe in her arms, give the floor a splash of colour, a bit of red to break the diamond patterns of black and white.
A hum rises in her throat, echoes against the stone of her heart. A lullaby. She walks up each step, drawing ever closer, and the lights they dance about her, skittering on her face, her hair. She says, I’m coming for you my darling, and the lights, look, the lights, now they dancing.
Do you read or write flash fiction? What are your favorite pieces of flash fiction? Any flash fiction authors you’d like to recommend?
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.
It is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.
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