Flash Fiction: When Freedom Finally Comes

“Sorry, Bill doesn’t live here anymore… No, I don’t know where he is now… I don’t plan on seeing him again, so it won’t do you any good to leave a message for him… that’s okay… no problem.”

She hangs up the phone and looks around her apartment. Her apartment. Finally hers for the first time in seven years. She inspects her bookshelf. Her books. Her mythology, metaphysics, science fiction. No more thriller novels, how-to books, political non-fiction… all his, all gone. She looks at her CD collection. Her David Sanborn, Enya, Kenny G, Jimi Hendrix, an assortment of Seventies and Eighties rock, blues, and R&B. No more Hank Williams Jr., Alabama, bluegrass and rap… all his… all gone. She walks into the kitchen. Her toaster. Her microwave. Her dishes and pans and crystal. Her herb rack. His wok, blender, juicer, and coffee pot… all gone.

She pours herself a glass of Glenfiddich. Her drink. No more Budweiser cans to clutter the trash. No more Marlboro Reds to clean out of the ash trays. No more… she spots his favorite mug. Still on the cabinet beside the stove. She picks it up, inspects it, turning it around and around in her hands… she remembers the night he brought it home.

Bill wanted to go into a cute little coffee shop down on the Market. They had dressed up to see a play, but she felt over-dressed for the coffee shop, so they stopped home to change first. She took too long, as usual, and Bill left without her. When he returned hours later, she was curled up on the sofa reading and ignored his entrance. He was drunk again. His usual escape when he was mad at her. In his hands was a mug from D’Angelo’s a bar down town, and his name had been etched into it. They had their usual fight, and he went to bed, snoring before his head hit the pillow… the mug tucked tightly under his arm.

He kept that mug close to him ever since. An excuse now to return to the apartment, she surmises. Turning it once more, she drops it into the trash can. No more mug. No more Bill.

She opens the refrigerator and pulls out a jar of salsa… hot. No more mild salsa for her. She grabs some chips and patters down the hall to the living room. No more television. No more wrestling. Serenity at last. She curls up on her sofa, opens the jar of salsa and eats it, dipping the chips right into the jar. No more bowls. She places her scotch on the table, letting it leave a ring if it wants to on the old coffee table. No more owl-shapped coasters. She picks up a copy of Omni and begins reading it. No more interruptions. No loud a-hems from across the room. She can read as long as she wants to.

After a few minutes, she places the jar of salsa on the coffee table, picks up her glass, swallows the rest of her scotch and lays the magazine on the sofa beside her. She glances around the living room, soaking in all the changes she has made in the three days since Bill moved out. A new fern, candles on the mantel piece, a large rocking chair in the corner of the room, a new stereo system. And then she notices the picture of her and Bill on vacation in Nantucket last year. She gets up, moves to the table it is resting upon and picks it up. She looks at it longingly. No more vacations in Nantucket. No more love-making in a hotel while people sleep in the next room. No more roses on her birthdays. No more Saturday morning breakfast-in-bed treats. No more rides on his Harley in the rain. No more Bill.

She drops the photograph on the floor, watches the shattering pieces through teary eyes. She returns to her couch, cradles a pillow in her arms and cries.

© 2013 Lori Carlson

From My Letter Series – A Letter to Virginia in Autumn

My dearest Virginia —

 

The air is crisp and cool tonight

not fevered as nights’ past

I smell Autumn and long for you —

 

I remember the last time

we walked together

your dress

of yellow, orange and flame red

swished in the late afternoon air

I could have watched you forever

dancing along the beaten trails

We sat and scattered our lunch

among the browning leaves —

with bellies bloated, we stretched out

your bronze head rested upon my chest

I gazed into the filtered sunlight

and thought

there could be no better life than this

 

O Virginia!

I miss your curves and valleys

my fingers dipping into your silky lakes

bathing in your scent of pine and redbud

caressing shivered slate ridges —

my arms ache to embrace

your harvest

where you give, give

your bounty in abundance —

Such passion I’ve never known since

 

Sweet love —

if I could but see you again

feel your laughter against my skin

taste the Autumn rain upon your lips

Surely that would sustain me —

 

As I gaze up into the filtered sunlight

leaves beginning to blush

I think of you, My sweet Virginia —

these Oklahoma Autumns are sun-dusted

and barren

            compared to you

 

Call me home, Virginia!

I am brown leaves, parched —

Call me home!

the frigid chill of Winter is so near

O Virginia –

if I could have just one sip

from your maple-dripping lips

            I could live once more

I could live

© 2013 Lori Carlson

 

Flash Fiction: The Mirror

Tilly passed the antique store every day on her way to work. She stood for a few moments staring inside at all the furnishings she wished for her own home some day.

On this particular day, there was a new mirror hanging in the display room. She went inside. The mirror was round and heavily embellished in the Baroque style. It wasn’t reflective. She surmised that perhaps it was damaged in some way. Leaning forward, she touched the mirror. Smoke cleared and it suddenly became reflective.

Standing before the mirror, her hands on her cheeks, Tilly gasped. The eyes of an eight year old Tilly stared back at her.

And then she spoke.

“Come play with me.”

Tilly was never seen again.

Case #305 – Flash Fiction

Elsie sat quietly while the professor discussed Case #305 in her Criminal Justice class. She was easily distracted. Thoughts hurriedly ran through her mind. Every now and again she would pick up pieces of information: razor blade, no sign of forced entry, no fingerprints but the victim’s. She was just about to walk out on the class, when something too familiar was said.

“The police found a used condom in the trash, but it wasn’t used on this victim,” her professor said. “It was from another unsolved rape case. This perp was taunting the police.”

Elsie let out a soft cry, but in the near-silence of the classroom, it echoed louder than she thought. All eyes turned to stare at her. She feigned a sneeze and said she was fine, then apologized to the professor. But she was not fine. She didn’t need to be there for the rest of this case; yet she couldn’t leave now.

She tried to drown out details of the case with songs in her head. At first Beethoven and Mozart and when they didn’t work, heavy metal songs played over in her mind. Nothing worked. She was sweating and breathing harder. She couldn’t sit still any longer and rose to leave.

“Miss Johnson, are you okay?” she heard the professor ask.

Elsie turned to look at him and said, barely audible, “Just need some air, sir.” She stumbled out of the room.

She ran outside the building, threw her books down on the stairs and leaned over a ledge, puking. Her mind raced with images, such horrible images.

Three years ago. Her dorm room. Her rape. Her case.

© 2013 Lori Carlson