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Flash Fiction


Tanti looked so pretty in her banana-yellow Easter dress. Slightly-dingy, white lace trimmed the hems of her sleeves and pea-sized pink flowers dotted the back where the buttons were. Where the button were still—unbuttoned.

Her sausage arms remained crossed, as well as her knees that were encrusted with dried mud. Some burgundy from a minor cut seeped through the mud’s black cracks, while tiny rock bits stood in her tender knee’s creases. Her eleven-year-old cheeks were swollen from babyhood’s leftovers. One protruded much further than the other. It had been slapped.

Tanti sat in the front seat of her mother’s old Volkswagen with the doors locked and the windows sealed. Tears lined her freckled face as if they were connecting the dots. Her eyes, still wet and throbbing from crying, were in a heavy daze at the setting sun ahead of her. She sat behind the driver’s seat with her hands on the steering wheel. The car was running and her foot was on the brake. She knew how to drive and was ready to go.

The back window shattered and an axe fell through.

“Open this car up, girl!” a drunken man’s voice slurred. He slid around the sides of the car with his hairy chest pressed against the windows to keep him balanced. “You don’t want to leave Uncle Pop by himself do you?”

Tanti’s eyes closed slowly as her heart raced and pounded, jolting to break free from its bondage. Her little foot released the brake and the car rolled forward, bumping over a hump. She jumped at her uncle’s howl—it was his foot. Tanti opened her eyes and smiled. She focused on the road, but glanced at the rearview mirror to catch the familial stranger dancing with a frown on his face. She clutched the steering wheel and stepped on the gas. She didn’t know she approached a dead end. She didn’t see the gas tank was on ‘E’.

neely terrell

How to get YOUR FLASH FICTION IN ARTVOICE! In the Margins occasionally features flash fiction by local writers. The flash fiction editor is Forrest Roth. Submissions running 500 words or less can be sent by e-mail to or by mail to Forrest Roth, Flash Fiction Editor, Artvoice, 810 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14202. Please include a SASE to have manuscripts returned.

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