KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Micro-Memoir: 361 words

Another Summer at the End
of the World

by C. C. Russell

Enough then to call it “summering,” my migratory patterns back to Wheatland and the night-flannel of your skin.

When I was a child there, I asked questions. What is a Minuteman, Trident submarine, Warhead? What does it mean to enter flame and leave only shadow? Even my father, who had helped liberate concentration camps, who had seen what we can do to one another, had no answer. I read books about Hiroshima’s survivors and those possibly luckier. I watched the sky for Oppenheimer’s face. I knew, even then, that the world would end with both a bang and a whimper.

With reservoir waves breaking over your legs, you described your dreams to me. Over your shoulder, the sky glowed a burnt orange and I thought, this is exactly what it will look like from a few miles out. So beautiful as it sears the skin from our bones.

Less than twenty miles out of town, lights from the silo were visible from my second story bedroom window. Some said we were a tertiary target—the silos weren’t reloadable. Why shoot at a target which would be gone by the time their missiles reached it? This is why we were told that we were safe.

And I told myself that was why I loved you—that you made me forget the shape of mushroom clouds, how for moments at a time, you made me believe we would survive and that surviving was important.

Years before I met you, in school, my friends and I would draw elaborate cities on a sheet of clean white paper and then carpet-bomb them by dropping pencils from chest height as we walked past them. The day our teacher confiscated a city from us, crumpling it into her hand and throwing it into the waste basket, my friend leaned over to me, laughing. “Nuclear bomb,” he whispered.

I was always convinced we would die of fire. The summers there of you, the heat. The nights on the shore. You, in your orange light.

Over your shoulder, the sky would burn and I would fall into you, ash into ash.

C. C. Russell
Issue 2, Winter 2015

Poetry by C. C. Russell has previously appeared in The New York Quarterly, Hazmat Review, Grasslimb, and Rattle among others. His short fiction has been published in The Meadow, Oyster Boy Review, KYSO Flash, and Microfiction Monday Magazine.

Russell currently lives in Wyoming with his wife, daughter, and two cats. In the past, he has lived in Ohio and New York. He holds a BA in English from the University of Wyoming and was the editor of their Owen Wister Review. He has held jobs in vocations ranging from hotel maintenance to dive bar DJ to retail management.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Showers, 312-word story in The Riding Light Review (Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2014)

Chinese Fire Drill in Microfiction Monday Magazine (seventh edition, 14 July 2014); scroll down to last micro on the page.

Blind, 1150-word story in Pindeldyboz (11 October 2004)

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