KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Flash Fiction: 659 words

Field Trips

by Daryl Scroggins

Mama likes to remind us that God once sent bears to eat a bunch of kids for being rude. That’s part of our home schooling. I don’t know what Mama has, seizure-wise, that makes her tip out at her teacher table for an hour at a time, but when she does we climb out a window and go to the library around the corner. She has the door padlocked, mostly so she will know if she has gone out without her knowing it.

We get there and my little brother Shad heads for the math book shelves. I go for the science fiction. I’m always wondering if Shad will get interested in my stuff when he gets to be twelve like me. He’s just nine, so for now he only wants numbers. There’s a real limit to what numbers can do for you, as I see it.


Mama looks up like nothing has happened and we are back where she left off, at our desks. If she seems like she might stay down for a long time, I play a few seconds of a sound track from a movie on my phone, a phone she doesn’t know I have. She sits right up when she hears that and starts going at papers, organizing things. And she’ll say—Daniel, why don’t you show me you were listening by repeating the last verse I quoted.

Then she sees us as geniuses, not knowing that when you are in control of time, you can memorize things and make it look like you already knew all of it. Shad takes it too far sometimes and I have to kick his leg under the desk. He looks through her lesson-plan notes when she’s out and then quotes the exact scripture she is heading for, as if a person would just naturally know about every important connection you could make. He told me one day that he planned to read only what she has lined up, saving him valuable hours of attention better spent on his own projects.


Today we are circling back around to the story of Abraham and Isaac, and how important it is to make crazy sacrifices when that’s what is called for. Out of nowhere my phone rings in my waistband. You can be good at remembering to hide something for a long time and one forgetting tears it.

But a miracle saves me. Mama hears it and tips out. It must be the ringtone that did it. It’s the Martians’ laser-weapon sound from the first War of the Worlds movie. Shad looks at me like—dumbass—but then he smiles. “Let’s waker up and try it again,” he says. I tell him that’s sick. Who knows what’s getting fried in her brain every time this happens? I think she is secretly taking those kinds of pills that come with all the warnings. Call your doctor if you dream you ran over a bunch of people and then hear sirens headed for your house.

Why that ringtone? I experiment with others. The Psycho knife-in-the-shower-scene sound makes her go on like nothing is happening, except that she shakes real bad and can’t drink from her tea mug. Another one, of Ewok sounds from Star Wars, puts her into slow motion.

After a while I find the best one. It’s the gargling sound the lizard creature makes in Enemy Mine when he recites his lineage. Mama hears that and closes her eyes, smiling. Not passed out, just—happy, maybe. That’s what it looks like. And she glows. Not a halo, it’s more like light coming out from under her skin. Shad gets real fidgety and says stop. Stop it! But I don’t know. It’s kind of nice to see her getting what she wants for a change. I don’t see anything wrong with leaving her there in that place for a while. Maybe the rest of the day. At least.

Daryl Scroggins
Issue 12, Summer 2019

has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and the Writer’s Garret, in Dallas. He now lives in Marfa, Texas. He is the author of This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press), Winter Investments: Stories (Trilobite Press), and Prairie Shapes: A Flash Novel (winner of the 2004 Robert J. DeMott Prose Contest). His poems, short stories, and creative nonfictions have appeared in magazines and anthologies across the country, including Blink Ink, Cutbank, Eastern Iowa Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Star 82 Review, and Third Wednesday, among others.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

New to School, micro-fiction in Eclectica (Jan/Feb 2018)

Two Fictions: Almost Baptized, and Against the Current in New Flash Fiction Review (Issue 10, January 2018)

Holding His Own, micro-fiction in KYSO Flash (Issue 5, Spring 2016)

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