Flash Fiction: “It takes a long time to become young again.”

She finishes the phone call and lights a cigarette. He waits for the coffee to cool, pulls the sheer curtains aside to view St. Mark’s square beyond the canal. They’ve been in Venice for three days. They’ll go out later, get something to eat, drink wine, bring up some day that they both thought they’d forgotten. She’ll smoke more and he’ll pretend not to mind.

“So, how is he?” he asks.

She exhales loudly. “Fine…I guess.”

“Do you want to leave?”

She drags on the cigarette again, chews her thumb nail. They had waited for, talked about, planned for months this trip. This was the trip to make everything right, to get the cells enlivened, to save what was left of their life together.

He stirs his coffee and sits down in the brown leather chair. It squeaks subtly and she looks at him, not for the first time, nor the last, in his rumpled gray suit. He should get a new one while he’s here. And shoes. He crosses his legs and sips the coffee.

It takes a long time to become young again – a quote from Picasso she’s read somewhere. Where? She can’t remember now. She pushed the spent cigarette into the lid of her soda can where it makes a small “shush” sound as it extinguishes. She looks out the window.

“I’m not leaving,” she says.

Buried

She stands. The sand falls from her clothes. From this point of view she can survey her work. She is immobile, in disbelief.

“What?” he asks.

Words evade her. Fourteen hours straight working the dig. Her voice is dry as the bones.

He stands beside her.

“My God.”

She has uncovered, pulled out, layer by layer, brush stroke by stroke, painstakingly slow, so as not to damage the fleshless human bones…an arm, a shoulder blade, long, extended, abnormal, numerous bones scattered by sediment and decay, now freshly exposed to air after what? Centuries? Millennium?

“What is it?”

“It’s a wing.”

I fell passionately in love with this post written in December 2009 on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:  Letters to Santa written by Shakespeare Characters, by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim.  Here’s a sample:

Dear Santa:

How does my lord? I am fine. I believe ’tis possible you did not receive my wish list last year, or that it fell into unsavory hands and was rudely tampered with before reaching you, as all you brought me was a chastity belt and some granny underpants. I pray that this one flies to you untainted since this year hath really sucked. I wish for the following:

— He’s Just Not That Into You (book and DVD)

— “All About Me” Lock and Key Diary

— National Geographic Flower and Leaf Pressing Kit

— Coastal Deluxe Automatic Inflatable Life Vest

Fingers crossed,
Ophelia

Read more letters here.

The Grande Malade

by Djuna Barnes

“And there we were, my sister Moydia and I, Madame.  Moydia was fifteen and I was seventeen and we were young all over. Moydia has a thin thin skin, so that I sit and look at her and wonder how she has opinions.  She is all white except the cheekbones, then rosy red; her teeth are milk-teeth and she has a small figure, very pretty and droll.  She wanted to become ‘tragique‘ and ‘triste‘ and ‘tremendous’ all at once, like the great period French-women, only fiercer and perhaps less pure, and yet to die and give up the heart like a virgin. It was a noble, an impossible ambition, n’est-ce pas, Madame?  But that was the way it was with Moydia. We used to sit in the sun when we were in Norway and read Goethe and did not agree with him at all. ‘The man is pompeaux and too assure,’ she would say, shutting her teeth, ‘and very much too facile.’ But then, people say we do not know.

 

~excerpt from The Grande Malade, a short story by Djuna Barnes

I love the words “we were young all over” in the second sentence.

top image: je suis malade by aglayan-agac

Roald Dahl retells Red Riding Hood

Roald Dahl retelling of fairy tales: Red Riding Hood

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, “Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat.”

Love this!!