Monday, October 26, 2015

Short, Short Story: Welcome Home

I wrote this flash fiction awhile ago. Really would like to get back into writing, but I can't really decide on a topic. I've edited Apophenia and written a query letter, so I'm ready to push it into the world, but the passion isn't there at the moment. What is passion? It's a stain on your shirt, a bloody brow, a pulled muscle, or a trash can full of rejection. It's not universal. It's found in precious little quantities.

Welcome Home

            She opens the door and there he is, splayed out on the couch, a beer resting in between his crotch, the television paused and displaying a video game menu. His hands still clutch the controller like an idol. Something slithers down the side of his mouth, a long trickle of moisture. He snorts and exhales. On the carpet is a large stain; its shape suggests a gradual expansion, a certain manifest destiny left unchecked by indifference. It smells in here, a sour reek of body odor and burned food. His clothes are in the corner, wadded up like trash. A swarm of gnats orbits a lampshade, drawn by its dim light.

            She walks through the living room and goes into the kitchen. Beer cans lie in piles like pagan offerings. There's nothing in the refrigerator but empty boxes and stained containers. On the table there is a note, a scribbled series of ten digits. Amanda it says beneath the numbers. She looks at this note for a long time, then takes it and crumples it up, tossing it on one of the piles of cans. Again, he is snoring, his breathing rough and irregular. The chair is hard, but she sits in it and stares at the place where the note was.

            The phone rings. It is her mother. She talks to her for a good while. Every so often she stares at him, checking to see if he has awoken. Mom asks how things are going, how her trip was. Everything is fine, she says. That's the truth, isn't it? She looks out the glass door and sees his underpants hanging on the lid of the charcoal grill. For the life of her she cannot figure out why they are there. He burps suddenly in his sleep, the air seeping out of his mouth like gas leaking out of a corpse.

            She asks her mother if she has ever been in love. Of course, her mother says. Why do you ask? There are ants on the floor, she responds. She hangs up on her mother. A little pair of black insects crawls across the linoleum, their legs quickening as she bends down to look at them. I'm sorry, she says, squishing them with the back of her hand. There is a husk in her living room that will not leave.  

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