KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Micro-Fiction: 435 words


by Cory Johnston

From the office window, I saw her slip and fall. The day was dreary, frigid. Sheets of snow fell from the slanted tile roof of the office, covering my window in ice crystals.

My coworkers had forgotten about me again. My cubicle is in a corner, seventeen paces from the nearest point of interest, the beverage vending machine. I can’t see any of them from my chair. And so my eyes wander: from the computer screen to the unpeeled orange, to the gray fuzz of the cubicle wall blocking out the others. Then to the window. Sometimes they catch on something unusual, like today with the red umbrella in the courtyard, half covered in snow.

It was open and upended like a big bowl, and had a stubby wooden handle. I guessed birch, maybe oak. I didn’t think it was imitation. Pea-sized hail fell into it, and snow. I tried to count how many pieces of hail got caught inside, but it was hard to see through the ice on the window.

But I did see the woman. She was red, too, the fur on her coat the color of cabernet. A hood covered her face except for an angular bit of chin that poked out. She took six steps in the direction of the umbrella, then stopped. A few puffs of foggy breath escaped the hood. She changed direction, towards the parking lot, where a station wagon idled with its flashers on. A silhouette loomed behind the wheel, obscured by frantic wipers.

My eyes wandered away, lost their focus. I saw the woman approach an ice patch, saw her feet slide, then leave the ground as she went horizontal. I saw her mouth emerge from under the hood, twisted in pain.

Then I saw myself running outside to her, mending the twisted ankle with a single touch. I watched her relax, then curl into a smile. She removed her hood and I helped her up, sent her off to the station wagon.

Wind gusted and my window was caked with fresh ice. My eyes fell back to the unpeeled orange, the screen, the dry sole of a shoe crossed over my knee. Though the woman had needed only four more steps to reach the umbrella, she hadn’t bothered. Maybe it wasn’t hers.

I rose, stretched, slunk down the office stairs and outside to the courtyard. Cold water dripped onto my collar. I grabbed the umbrella and massaged the wooden handle. When I lifted, a pool of water spilled out onto the walkway. Soon it would freeze into an ice patch, ripe with possibility.

Cory Johnston
Issue 1, Fall 2014

A writer and critic living in New Jersey, Cory Johnston also works as an assistant editor of The Literary Review [TLR]. You can find out more about his work at

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