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This is the first creative installment of the Flash Fiction section in its new incarnation. These two pieces, “Raw” by Nicole Moore and “One Time Thing” by Janet Lee are reprints. Long story short: these are the original stories as they should have originally appeared. And here they are.
They’re stories of loss and suspicion and what is really real. Can we bring memories and events back to life by talking about them? Certainly stories can and these are a couple of brilliant ones told succinctly, clearly and meaningfully.
Send your short short stories (500 words or so — though the blog format allows for longer content) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then comment, debate, converse. Be part of a literary community. Help make this work.
— Lyle Rosdahl
"Raw" by Nicole Moore
Reyna looked down at her hands and feet, wondering where they would take her this time. What sensations would she feel? And what could Vegas do to her that all the other gritty cities hadn't?
As she boarded the flight, she looked around. She could pick out the “Vegans” like they were horsemeat stinking in the sun. The over-60 men had dignified white bands running like winning streaks through their grey hair brushed so carefully into place and molded with spray; they wore large-banded gold watches and pinky rings. And the over-50 women strutted in short pants with patent-leather high heels; they wore gold rings and had manicured nails that pointed flare in every direction that their feathery heads turned.
Vegas, Reyna realized, is a desert: all brown and dust-flat, and spread out over the deep-cragged valleys of the Grand Canyon. Dry and sunny, and brown like the shag of camel hair.
Outside the airport she stood in the bright white Nevada sun watching a cast of characters huddled near, begging in fishnets and wigs with dollar bills trapped between push-ups.
It's all sparkle and diamonds here, she thought. And not always real.
The expressions of the people were either stone-faced, overly and suspiciously friendly, or simply sexual.
Reyna headed to Ellis Island off Flamingo and Coval for something cheap to eat. She passed the trash-laden gutters and call-to-order fliers for girls-barely-legal and dodged cars under the monorail-shaded back streets. As she entered the cave of darkness, she understood how time could get so warped here.
The ceiling matched the maroon-patterned carpet and the chandelier that hung low cast warmth over the diners: a mix of slot-machine regulars, pay-girls, and tourists. After a couple of brews, Reyna walked light-headed out into the sinking sunlight.
She chose the most beautiful of the hotels to enter first. Darkened mirrors at the back of a high-end jazz bar reflected clientele dressed in dark Armani suits and cocoa-silk blouses with skirts tendered with delicate buttons trailing from hip to hem.
Most women think others are significantly more beautiful. And here in Vegas, this feeling was overwhelming as women competed for the attentions of flagrant men. She saw flashes of desire in all the eyes she met, just as they must have seen it flash within hers.
This is the danger of this place, thought Reyna. The wanting.
The stink of Vegas assailed her as she walked outside again: mixtures of dust, sweat, smoke, and perfume. But as she left, she looked to the heavens above. The moon was full and bright: a soul high above the earth, high above mundanity, high above the illusive shows and illusive people, and she thanked the moon that night for being real.
"One Time Thing" by Janet Lee
She wasn’t sure if she was going to tell him. Why did he have to know that she had slept with her ex? Did it really matter? She could just keep it a secret, a secret for herself. But wasn’t that a lie? Sort of? But if she said anything, it would end everything. She was sure of that. Besides, he had a secret of his own. He still had his ex-girlfriend’s number and he called her. She knew. She had spied and she knew and she hadn’t said anything—yet. This would be a secret of her own. Because, after all, if you didn’t talk about something, did it really exit? If they never mentioned anything, did it ever happen? After it happened, it was gone. Forever. It was dead. Only talking about it would bring it back to life.
So she talked to him about other things, a conversation she overheard at lunch. It made him laugh and she enjoyed making him laugh. It was like telling her things were okay. It was like telling her he forgave her for what she had done, and he was sorry for what he was doing, and it would all come to an end. Their past lives would come to an end for each other. It felt like a truce. She talked to him about other things and promised herself it was a one time thing and she wouldn’t do it again. She wouldn’t mention the phone number she found—not yet. It was probably a one time thing, too. Talking about things would only bring them to life. It was better that they were dead.
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