Three flash fictions, by Timothy Gager

Best Fiends

All the appa­ra­tus at the play­ground was bro­ken. There was rust­ed slides, hang­ing chains with­out swings, and dis­as­sem­bled mon­key bars that looked like cru­ci­fix­es with­out a Christ. We rolled out of the sandbox—after we’d shot all the sand and we’d fall­en asleep. You had a pail full and a sifter, but that was gone, so we ran. We ran all the way to the fence and then we stopped. It was a pause that last­ed a few minutes.

There was noth­ing beyond that fence, except dan­ger, death and dark­ness. Then you start­ed to climb; I fol­lowed because we rolled like that. I noticed that your legs were as thin as tooth­picks, as we’d been run­ning for almost two years now and there was bare­ly any­thing left of us. You reached the top and jumped down, while I sat there, the wire prongs from the chain links dig­ging into my thighs. “You can make it,” you said, but I knew I couldn’t as beyond that fence there was no hope. I turned my head and looked over my shoul­der; behind me was no hope either. I lurched for­ward and the ground thud­ded when I hit, my legs were com­pressed springs, I pitched face-first into the mud.

We had tried, damn, we had tried to clean up. The meet­ings we went to drunk were all about get­ting clean and keep­ing clean. Then we went out again; end­ed up job­less, in debt with our shorts bare­ly stay­ing up on our hips. We came to this point, on the ground of our play­ground and then we got up.

After I wiped the mud off my fore­head we walked in deep­er. It was increas­ing­ly dark, the fur­ther away we got. “Let’s just lie down for a minute,” you said as the dead angels flapped strong­ly against the wind, which seemed to chan­nel above us like water in a tor­rent. “This is how it ends,” you said, as two angels flew down and began to devour us like vultures.


On our third date Nate took me to a strip club. He was old­er, the gym teacher with a geol­o­gy degree and I want­ed to appear hip and comfortable—experienced. There wasn’t much for him to do in this town with a geol­o­gy degree. After I few drinks I had told him and his douchebag friend Sling­shot that I had a fan­ta­sy of danc­ing on a stage.

Nate and Sling­shot bought me drinks, the fruity kind, as I watched the girls blend into the col­ored lights. After­ward we stayed and a dancer called Phoenix took me up and showed me how to work the pole. I was down to a tank top and panties when Sling­shot said he was hun­gry and that we should go to the Towne Diner.

Nate had corned beef. Sling­shot ordered eggs, a vod­ka ton­ic and poked at our fore­arms when he talked to us. I pushed food around my plate as if it were a pin­wheel. “Let’s go,” I said to Nate and Sling­shot stayed. He knew some­one that worked in the back.

We drove to Nate’s house and the lights were on. I was about to meet his par­ents. We sat and talked and com­ment­ed on the news. Nate’s par­ents want­ed to hear the weath­er so we went upstairs. I was naked when Nate start­ed talk­ing about the Earth, the mate­ri­als of which it is made, the struc­ture of those mate­ri­als, and the process­es act­ing upon them.

The Beau­ty on the Inside

Vio­let was in her mother’s apron pouch as her moth­er stood by the stove and stirred the sauce with a wood­en spoon. “Hold this,” moth­er said. Vio­let felt the heavy weight of it and feared she would top­ple out of the slick plas­tic apron and onto the floor, where she wouldn’t be seen. Her moth­er lift­ed the top off the pot of broc­coli. They looked like trees. She was too small to lift the spoon up to crack her moth­er on the head with it.

I refuse to be in anyone’s pock­et,” Vio­let said rebel­lious­ly years ago, before she fell out the first time and began life on her own. This was a time she had grown, joined a few armies, spoke to ani­mals, and became edu­cat­ed. She didn’t fall from the sky but she flew and land­ed in a green for­est. It was then she looked out and not up. There was no spoon to hold. Broc­coli was just some­thing to eat with a fork and not a big tree need­ing to be hacked down with a butch­er knife.

Vio­let soon man­aged short trips—and then vaca­tions. They felt like brief pieces of heav­en. She saw the moun­tains, trav­eled to cities; even drove a scoot­er in Rome. After that, Vio­let went to a small island and felt sand so warm; saw the grains as minute lit­tle rocks. She could lie there for­ev­er tak­ing time to greet the water. She was mar­ried to the ocean but she couldn’t swim; nev­er learned how. The waves reached out, gave her love, and then shrank back, black and men­ac­ing, leav­ing her con­fused and want­i­ng to drown.

Vio­let called her moth­er who told her she was naked on the sofa. Home seemed so casu­al. She imag­ined bend­ing down to enter the house and the doors became sud­den­ly taller. She smelled the sauce on the stove. “Put on some­thing for Christ sake,” she yelled. Moth­er slipped on an apron, which was hung from the man­tel, scooped Vio­let up and placed her inside. It wasn’t until she was reunit­ed with the spoon that she jumped, dis­ap­pear­ing like a clove of gar­lic into the sauce.

GagerTim­o­thy Gager is the author of ten books of short fic­tion and poet­ry. His lat­est The Shut­ting Door (Ibbet­son Street Press) is his first full length poet­ry book in over eight years. h He has host­ed the suc­cess­ful Dire Lit­er­ary Series in Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts every month for the past eleven years and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writ­ers Festival.

His work has appeared in over 250 jour­nals since 2007 and of which nine have been nom­i­nat­ed for the Push­cart Prize. His fic­tion has been read on Nation­al Pub­lic Radio.

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One Response to Three flash fictions, by Timothy Gager

  1. Susan Lemere says:

    Bra­vo! Gems, all three.

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