Flash Fiction: What th…

A conversation the other day, with a friend, spurred me to write this. I experimented with writing in the first person, which I have rarely used. Then, I changed the story to present tense. This is even more rare for me. While reading it today at Writing Practice’s monthly Writers Read Out, I found it difficult to stay in the present tense. One line, in particular, came out in the past tense every time I practiced reading it, and again, at the event. “We move our conversation to Messenger.” It was interesting. My brain would not let go of the past tense, and “move” always became “moved.” At 332 words, I am not positive it counts as flash fiction, but I do not know what else to call it.

The day starts out peaceful and calm. The wild wind and rain from the previous day moved on. Even though it is cool—we no longer experience real cold—the bright winter sun shines in my eyes. It turns the fall leaves, still clinging to the trees, a fiery gold. Inside my house, it is toasty. Kano lies on his mat with his back pushed against the heater vent—his favorite spot. Kake sits at my feet.

I try to write, but Facebook distracts me. I get into a debate with a friend about whether anything—health care, taxes, sexual abuse of women and children—is important, beyond the threat of nuclear holocaust or global warming, and which would kill us first.

“You’re too pessimistic,” he says.

We move our conversation to Messenger.

I do not know why I am taking such exception on this particular day, but over the past week, the news keeps getting worse and worse. The sea ice in the Bering Sea is the thinnest—ever—at this time of year. A heatwave over all of North America set record highs—and not by small amounts, but eight or nine degrees Fahrenheit—before moving into Greenland, where rain—rain in December!—is melting the glaciers.

To top that, North Korea shot off another missile a few days ago, and Hawaii is testing its air raid sirens, after decades of not being used. I remember the air raid siren tests each afternoon in my little town when I was growing up. How stupid is that, as if the siren would make any difference? I text my friend, “Sure glad I live in a target city.”

“Yeah. No real chance of suffering from radiation sickness.” Then, my friend surprises me. “None of that really matters. We’ll move on to a better place, beyond the pearly gates.”

“Are you shitting me? We’ll just all be dead.”

A bright light. Time to say, “What th…”—the bright light fades to… pearly gates—“…e hell?”

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

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