f l a s h f i c t i o n
There were two of them, one in front and one behind me. The one in front had a gun. He pointed it at me and said, "Do you have anything for us?" At first, I didn't understand what he meant so I answered, "No, I don't think so." He fired a round to let me know he meant business and asked, "Are you sure?" Ah, I answered, and I thought I understood now. How could I be so dense? They wanted my clouds and I had so many of them. They floated out of my pockets, escaped the palms of my hands, exhaled from my open mouth. They drifted above me, endless, beautiful in so many shapes and sizes. I never knew until they put that red hole in me how many I contained, a whole skyful, in fact. I'd never run out. I could hear the sirens in the distance. I wanted to tell them it was okay, to be careful, not to risk themselves an injury for my sake. I was perfectly okay. There was no emergency here; there never was.
Degrees of Spine Curvature
Over time, we all adopt the postures that suit us. Mine is that of a small child who survived the bombardment of her desert village when American warplanes mistook it for an enemy fortification. I am stooped, attempting to shield the smallest in a litter of kittens, the body lifeless as a plushy in the aftermath of shock and awe. I'm sorry. I've been a human being all my life but it still hasn't gotten any easier. It hasn't been long enough to feel comfortable, to get it right. It's like how I never could do a proper jumping jack in high school gym class, my arms and legs somehow always out of sync, the instructor barking at me to follow the others and things only getting worse. I'm grinning awkwardly now, while I'm telling you all this, like two halves of a torn aerial photograph of the Arctic Circle, which, whether you believe it or not, really has slowly and irreversibly begun to melt.
There was a blue whale washed up in the supermarket parking lot this morning. I came upon the small crowd surrounding it while on my morning walk. At first, I thought it was a city bus but the closer I got the more I realized my mistake. The whale was twice the size of any city bus. No one knew where it had come from or how it had wound up in the grocery store parking lot.
People were taking smartphone photos and videos, sending tweets, doing what people always do in these unprecedented situations. Everyone seemed very excited, almost giddy, like the circus had come to town, and they'd all become children again. I didn’t share the same excitement. I'd come upon such things happening in stories and poems many times before. Still, this was the first time I'd ever come upon such a thing occurring in real life.
Someone had tied the whale's great, fan-shaped tail to a Toyota pick-up and was now trying to drag the huge animal back to the ocean. But we were in Ohio, the Atlantic Ocean was almost six hundred miles away. It would take at least nine hours to get there on a good day—but dragging a whale? It hardly seemed a credible plan. In fact, the little truck's engine was making a terrible high-pitched whine already and its front tires were lifting a little off the asphalt as it tried to move the humongous dying mammal. The idea that anyone could drag the whale to the ocean—or even the local creek a couple of miles down the road—tied to the tow-hook of a Toyota Tacoma was preposterous.
But whoever it was kept trying. He was going to kill the engine of that little red truck of his playing the hero. Meanwhile, the whale gave a great exasperated sigh in which you could smell the brine of the faraway ocean, feel the damp breeze as it chilled your clothes on a January morning. I sighed along with the whale. "I know how you feel buddy," I thought, silently commiserating with the whale. There was something like amusement in it's wrinkled, long-suffering, grandmotherly eye. The truck whined on, the man leaning out the window, checking on his progress. There’s always one in every crowd.
Meeah Williams is a writer and graphic artist from Seattle. Her work has appeared in X-R-A-Y-Lit, Philosophical Idiot, Unfinished Journal, Cafe Irreal, New Pop Lit and others.