This week we have two from author William Owen. Though they're quite different on the face of it, the focus on the flow of the language brings them together. The first, Flower Sermons, captures the lilt of two characters while the second, For Gluons and Gravitons catches the musical language right out of composer's head. Beautifully composed, beautifully captured.
Enjoy these two excellent stories.
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Flower Sermons by William Owen
“They say she lives alone out there.”
“What, like out in the woods?”
“Not like way back in a cabin or anything, but in a little house out there off the road. I’m not even sure she has a car.”
“What does she walk in here every day. Seems a long way. And not really safe is it, or doesn’t seem safe. Anyone come along on someone looks like her, well if they ain’t a good sort that’d turn around pretty bad.”
“They say she speaks in a funny tongue, some weird, old accent. Old Tamber said she spoke with all manner of things too. That when you’d go up by the place she’d be outside, out in back of the place or over on the side nearer to the stream and the marsh near that fork in the road.”
“The one that leads over to Dalton.”
“Or over towards Hume yeah.”
“Hm, didn’t realize the place was up that far. I’m not out that way too much.”
“Tamber says she’ll be out there talking with the plants, sometimes treating them to a congregation.”
“The hell does that mean?
“Like a preacher?”
“Yeah. Holding forth on all those plants and anything else there she might be seeing. What kind of virtue to you suppose you’d extol to a plant.”
“Hahaha, hmm. Constancy.”
“How about a venus fly trap?”
“Sort of have to condone murder on that one don’t you.”
“Either that, or you and Tamber just having on right?”
“I’m not, I’m telling you what Tamber said.”
“That old broad knows just about everyone, has not been known to bullshit and does not strike me as to like to make up a story like that.”
“No, s’why I kind of went on with it. It’s out there, sure.”
“Still, even if she is sort of odd, she’s still a beauty and there are still all kinds out there up on the hills. That one guy, the one they say takes off anytime he gets wind of the FBI after him, he lives out there. He’s not someone I’d put anything past. Even if I didn’t know him twice as well as I’d like to I’ve heard more than half a what I need to know he isn’t any sort.”
“Yeah. I don’t know. Makes a mystery though doesn’t it. She’s only lived here for what, five years. Opens this little store, always standing there in the doorway. But it’s gotta be good for the town, having a curio shop that sells flowers.”
“Sure. You think you’d ever talk to her.”
“I get tongue tied and stammerin’ just thinking about talking to her.”
“You’d maybe do alright.”
“No, carpenters don’t talk to pretty florists.”
For Gluons and Gravitons by William Owen
She didn’t look at anyone in particular but then she was staring directly at him, and he looked back, then stopped. He looked at the electronic registers screen, taping in the cinnamon bun the couple in front of the window has just ordered. He looked back and she was still looking at him.
He stared back for a moment, rounding and then flattening his eyes to try for a reaction, but she stared intently.
He laughed, like something wispy, “What?”
And she continued to look, and he noticed she was not stiff, and not rigid, but rather just solid, as if denser, as if heavier and more material, and she looked, saw, with the same kind of material weight with which she was standing, and he felt even more like a soft and intemporal particulate thing, being distended and disassembled by streaming ribbons of magnetic waves, fanning through him and scattering the bits that made him up and kept him feeling all there.
In his ears he heard the pronging of two strings of a bass guitar.
He saw sparks appear in the air and fall down into a hole that was in the sitting in the center of space inside her mouth, collapsing into the density of her gaze.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.
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