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Flash Fiction: Souvenirs


We were on our way to Binghamton for Hazel’s niece’s christening when we saw a sign for an estate sale and decided to stop.

Hazel and I started at the end of the driveway and worked our way inside. There were three or four other couples orbiting the rummage, picking things up, putting them back down. While Hazel examined a pink Easy-Bake Oven with a maimed door, I paged through a box of sheet music, songs I remembered practicing as a boy. When I turned around, Hazel was standing in front of me with a disturbed look on her face.

“This is going sound crazy, I realize,” she said, pausing. “But that’s my Easy-Bake Oven. The one I had when I was six.”

“How can you tell?”

“It’s a feeling. I can’t explain it, I just know.”

Walking around, we came upon more strange merchandise: our childhood bikes, roller skates; Hazel’s spoon collection; my father’s Roto Grip bowling ball; scrolls of posters that once papered the walls of our college dorms. At one point, I turned to Hazel and she was crying, her hand hanging limply from her forearm. I thought she’d been stung by something, but then I noticed a small silver ring dangling from her fingers.

“This was my mother’s ring,” she said. “She used to wear it on special occasions. I haven’t seen it in years.”

“Do you want to buy it?”

She nodded, and dried her face with her sleeves.

There was an old woman rocking on the warped planks of the porch, back and forth, in and out of the shade. She was wearing jewelry, so much jewelry – bracelets, necklaces, elaborate sets of earrings. Without seeing her, we might have mistaken her for a wind chime.

“How much for the ring?” Hazel asked. The woman inspected it closely.

“Twelve dollars and seventy-four cents. No. Wait. Seventy-six cents,” she said, handing the ring back to Hazel.

I only had nine dollars in my wallet.

“Are you willing to bargain?” I asked.

“This ring is very dear to me.”

“Credit?” I said, extending my VISA.

“I only take checks.”

“Could we work out some kind of trade? I have CDs in my car.”

“No player. And, besides, I don’t care much for music.”

Hazel and I convened in the garage.

“I’ll distract her while you drive off with the ring,” I said.

“Forget it. I’m putting it back,” she said, and returned to the bureau where she’d found it, lingering a moment before unfolding her hand.

I bought the Magic 8-Ball I got for my eleventh birthday. On the drive to the church, I shook it and asked it questions, but it wouldn’t take. The die had disappeared in the blue ink.

­—ravi mangla

Literary Buffalo occasionally includes flash fiction alongside the poetry, features, interviews, and book reviews. Literary Buffalo seeks submissions of flash fiction, meaning complete stories running 500 words or less. Stories longer than 500 words will not be considered. Send submissions to flash fiction editor Forrest Roth at or mail them to Flash Fiction Editor, Artvoice, 810 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14202. Please include SASE for return of manuscript.

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