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Flash Fiction: Ayudame


I am a tall woman. I once knew a short man who loved tall women. On the day we met, he looked up at me and smiled that arrogant smile short men love to flash hoping charm will lift them higher. I cannot say his smile worked in his favor. There was something off about his teeth. They were misshapen and didn’t look like they fit in his mouth. They were the teeth of a much larger man. Still, he was handsome in his own way and persistent. Every time I saw him at my favorite coffee shop or across the street walking in the opposite direction or at a party he would approach me and say charming things, or things he thought were charming, in the hopes I would go out with him. It wasn’t that I was playing hard to get. I don’t put up those kinds of pretenses. I’ve never been innocent or chaste. I was being stubborn because something about him irritated me deeply. I knew eventually I would go out with him but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of welcoming his advances until he had almost given up hope. This went on for months. I dated a series of men of varying heights, all shorter than me. I didn’t mind. None of them made an impression.

One night, I was at a salsa party in a hot, cramped apartment in July—air so thick it was hard to walk more than a few feet without wishing for a merciful end. Brittany hosted—she was dating a Mexican man named Esteban and trying to show him she understood his culture in all the worst ways. She decorated her apartment with Japanese lanterns and cheap sombreros, the kind you might find in a chain Mexican restaurant hung sadly from the walls. On a small Formica table in the kitchen sat a pair of maracas and several bowls of Tostitos and Old El Paso salsa. This song started playing, Que Lio, slow with a real sexy beat, the kind that made you want to grind hard against something to get a little relief. I was drunk on tequila and my body felt hot and loose. I wanted to dance with someone, anyone. This short man, he sensed the moment, knew I was feeling soft like a broken bone beneath bruised skin. He stepped into me, put his arms around my waist and we started dancing, our bodies barely moving. He knew the words to the song. I leaned down so I could rest my head on his shoulder and his wet lips kept tickling my ear as he sang along and we were in perfect sync. I did not want that song to end.

—roxane gay

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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