KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Flash Fiction: 565 words [R]


by Marion de Booy Wentzien

NIGHT. She hates night. The desert black in a moonless sky. The howling. Hers? Coyotes? In the Arizona desert of her childhood, her mother and her mother’s boyfriend stayed up all night: drinking, fighting, swearing. Her father, shot down over the Adriatic, sleeps forever in his plane. How do you learn to love the night? Is night inside you even on the sunniest day?

MOUNTAINS. Bruised lumps in varying shades of purple. They ring the desert like firemen around a hoop waiting for a jumper to fall. Sheer canyons with bright flowing streams, big rocks. Watch out for rattlesnakes sunning.

JANE. She’s never known a Jane she’s liked. But she loves the name and wishes it was hers. Plain Jane. See Jane run. Second grade, Jane Myers—You don’t have a father. High school, Jane Washington—He’s my boyfriend. Sometimes she thinks of tattooing Jane on her forearm so she can die as Jane Doe.

BABIES. Fat babies. No-neck babies. Three babies like stair steps. “Do you want babies?” he’d asked. She could tell by his tone what the answer should be if she loved him. Yes popped out instead of no. Years of babies. Drowning in babies. She bathed them carefully. Pulled them out if they went under water.

BLIZZARD. A whiteout inside her. Left again—by him, not her father. The children, grown and fiercely independent, have moved on with their lives. Alone. Heart frozen—as if a blizzard passed through, stopping all time and movement. If she went outside naked, then what? Maybe rage would unfreeze her. Desert. Cold nights. Oh God, two hatreds at once. Memo to self. Must hunt for beaches, the sun, and no people.

MUFFIN. A love name. Real muffins: Chocolate chip, huge, overflowing the paper cup. She no longer bakes. Eats everything raw, or buys muffins. No dishes. The small cottage in La Jolla is perfect. It’s near a surfing beach. She can sit on rocks and watch boys ride waves. She’s thin and tan, but nobody’s personal “muffin.”

WHISPERS. Secrets. Codes. Even with her head bent she notices people stare and then whisper. Whispers have colors. White means hate. Yellow nothing. See the cupped hand, the bent ear. A blue whisper. Since her color is blue she knows they are talking about her. Everybody has secrets. She’d like to spread all the secrets in her life on the ground in blue paint and read them in a loud voice.

SHEETS. She loves sheets. Clean sheets. Childhood bed—a torn, pee-stained mattress. Now her sheets are clean, sprinkled with lavender from pots on the deck. Rose petals. Some times she picks a lemon and squeezes just a tiny bit on her pillow. Every night clean sheets. A different smell. A silent night.

HANDWRITING. She collects handwriting. Tiny bits of letters, sometimes only two words. A few words are in her dead mother’s square, squat handwriting. Her favorite is a bit of her father’s small script. She can hold both together. Warm them if they look cold.

PHOTOGRAPHS. She keeps just features. Blue eyes. Brown and green eyes. Then there are noses and mouths. She combines people. His eyes, her mouth. She rips pictures from the worn red album from her childhood, but only the ones with tightly closed lips. Now all she has to do is to find her face somewhere in all this mess and redesign it.


—Published previously in Spry Literary Journal (Issue 3); appears here with author’s permission


Marion de Booy Wentzien’s
Issue 10, Fall 2018

writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and she has received the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award (twice) and the New Letters Literary Award. One of her stories was presented at Stories On Stage in Chicago. Her fiction appears in dozens of publications, including Big Ugly Review, Blue Penny Quarterly, Citron Review, The Cossack Review, Extract(s), On the Page, Prime Number, The Quotable, Red Fez, ROAR Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Scholastic Books, Seventeen, Solstice Literary Magazine, Sonora Review, Spry Literary Journal, the St. Petersburg Times, The Stone Hobo, Story Magazine, Tattoo Highway, and Village Advocate (Chapel Hill, NC). The author lives in Saratoga, California with her husband of sixty years and some formerly stray animals.

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