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Flash Fiction

Was What It Was

As he fell face forward toward the glass-strewn concrete, he wasn’t thinking about how it looked like a shattered kaleidoscope, or about how Billy called him a cocksucker, or how that wasn’t an insult anyway—not that he was gay or anything—or about how this fight was a long time coming (he’d long tired of Billy’s duplicity), or about how later his scar-streaked face would remind him of some phosphorescent and tentacled slimy thing on the ocean floor, or a paper birch’s branches, anything dendritic really, like the lightning that shook him awake as a toddler, and he would cry, only to have his mother tell him that it was nothing, that he should be a big boy and should go right to bed; he wasn’t thinking of any of those things, but he did have a flash of one of Rothko’s black squares as if plunging into its maw, its absence, its erasure, not that he would remember that later, although the same kind of emptiness would thrum in his chest when he thought back to the fight, and as his face smashed against the ground, and a tooth squeezed down his throat like an aspirin, he wasn’t thinking that Esther, Selah, and especially Jessica, who were all standing around screaming, were all secretly rooting for him, rather than trying to keep him from getting completely pummeled, and he wasn’t thinking about how just moments before he’d splashed his beer across Billy’s face because Billy had told these same three women how he had peed on himself when he was in the first grade, and as Billy’s boots carved into his stomach, and the bouncer from Mulchahy’s was pulling Billy away saying, Get off him or deal with me Motherfucker! he wasn’t thinking about the sweet sick smell wafting from the hot dog stand on the corner, or the bus’s pneumatic wheeze as its doors whooshed open, or how everything went wrong, how everything always went wrong whenever Billy was around, and as he grabbed his shoe that somehow wriggled off when he was getting his ass kicked and watched Billy jump into the bus, and then threw his shoe at the bus, and saw Billy’s unmarked but beer wet face curled into that same sitcom smile, and Billy flipped the bird at him, he didn’t think of how Billy had once again got the last word, but about how everything turned out to be what it turned out to be. Bus fumes. Tires spinning. Rainbow in oil. He tongued his cheek.

Flash Fiction in Artvoice

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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