This week's flash fiction piece is from Jen Knox, a local writer whose memoir, Musical Chairs, was published in 2009 (an autobiography well worth the read). This story is about emptiness, a yearning for the impossible and more. Vivid images and a clear voice, will make you want to read it twice (at least). Enjoy.
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“D20-Xc8” by Jen Knox
Sheila's thigh brushes against me as Antone rambles on about an ice bar he saw on The Food Channel. “We have to go. All the drinks are served in cups made of pure ice, and they make you wear a thermal suit while you're there. You're so numb, you just drink and drink. Then you go outside, thaw out, and realize you're, like, really fucked up.”
At one time, I'd think such a place ridiculous, but since they've stationed me here in Florida, in the middle of summer and since I'm now confined to a room with no ventilation and an overpopulation of over-sized insects, the ice bar doesn't sound so bad. Come to think of it, I long just to watch The Food Channel. When I used to work in Housewares at Wal-Mart, I found myself rather addicted to the channel, which was always on in the store. Purees and foams were popular when I last watched—a trend that disturbed me to no end.
Sheila's really leaning into me now. If only Antone knew. Last week, she visited me in a short summer dress, and without a word lifted it, rode me into the early hours—long before the cacophony of alarms began to sound through the thin apartment walls. She was inexhaustible that day, and eventually, reluctantly, I just stopped moving, unable to go even a second longer.
I still shudder when I think about it. And now, when Sheila gives me money to go, I can't. Her mood shifts and Antone begins to yell (like I care) and then pound on me with his bony fists. I feel dents forming, and just when I feel I might come to life, I shut down completely; the electricity drains from my body. I hear him cursing our apartment complex, calling me dirty, a piece of shit, trying to pry his money from my insides. He'll never get it back.
As they walk out, with soggy clothes, I feel a jolt and begin to shake, slowly so they won't hear. Just when they're out of sight, the heat comes and I begin to really go, tumbling, nothing but air.