This month’s best-of selection is “After Morgan” by Anel I. Flores, which tells a story so well in the space constraint of a flash piece. The narrator’s keen sense of smell quickly twists your stomach in a knot making you realize there’s a lot at stake here. And while the ending is fairly open-ended, you also see that the character has made a clear decision. This is an excellent example of a traditionally structured, well-told flash narrative. If you like what you read, check out Flores’ novel Empanada: a Lesbiana Story en Probaditas. I’m always looking for flash fiction and am reading right now for April. Send in your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Anel I. Flores
After Morgan dropped me off at the chapel steps, I ran to the restroom and washed my face and neck. I could smell his spit in the air around my face from where he left the residue of his ba-bas all over my torso. He parked us on Contour Drive, under the trees to make out. I let him even though it made me feel gross. I swore last Wednesday to myself I wouldn’t go with him again and I even broke up with him after the football game. The next day, the dean called my name over the school announcements. When I reported to the office, behind the registrar, on her bookshelf was a pink “I love you” cellophane balloon attached to a white teddy bear.
Ms. DeSpain sang to me in a sly voice, “Ms. Paloma, this early Valentine’s gift was delivered from a pretty blonde young man!”
It was really a let’s-get-back-together gift that annoyed the crud out of me. Everyone teased me about my country boyfriend and his sweet ways. The girls would tell me how they wished their boyfriends would send them gifts and pick them up after school. Even after avoiding all of his phone calls that night, the next day, before the last bell rang I saw Morgan’s baby blue pickup truck parked against the front curb of the school. Mona teased me.
“Your baby’s daddy is here.”
The idea of having a baby with him made my stomach turn. I rushed to his truck, knowing that the sooner we made it to makeout, the sooner I could say, “Gotta go,” and get back to school. As I approached Morgan he reached across the beat up bench seat and opened up my door from the inside. His smell of sour, sweaty football clothes suffocated me and I slapped my lips shut, first afraid of his slobbery kiss and second afraid I’d be able to taste his smell and puke.
Morgan was a very handsome boy with pink skin, freshly cut blond hair and eyes that matched his truck. His plaid shirt was held closed by the two middle buttons revealing his hairless chest and boy cut belly muscles. The sleeves of his shirt were folded up to his biceps. We met through a friend who was girlfriends with his best friend, and I had no idea why he liked me. Maybe his football player competitiveness liked the challenge of trying to get to second base. When he tried to get under my clothes he would talk to me in broken textbook Spanish that made me think he was fulfilling some kind of caretaker, nana childhood fantasy. I didn’t know and I didn’t care.
I washed my neck in the sink, took his letters and dried flowers out of my memory box and never left school through the front again.