I’ve been reading a lot of flash fiction as I investigate such literary magazines as Wigleaf, Pank, and others. Feeling inspired, I decided to write some more flash fiction, and to try a more experimental piece. It’s been awhile since I went for something with this feel to it. This was fun, and made me want to search the disorganized archives of my older writing for a piece I had been working on maybe four or five years ago that reminds me of this one.
I decided to go again to the random choice of words for some inspiration, though I didn’t limit myself to 150 words this time. The following list was taken from the Winter 2014 issue of the Journal.
The words: riddled, aloofness, forehead, blame, function, pronouns, superhero, dependent, plastic, positive, shock, ribcage, charges, neighborhood, proximity, ballooning, forest, dioramas, margins, pinpoint, arachnid, eyeliner, cracking, diffusing, natural
The Spider and the Fly-Man
Each table in the restaurant is a diorama, when one surveys the scene, sweeping the eyes from one corner to the other, observing with the necessary aloofness, refusing to assign blame, only accepting the scenes as they present themselves in vague pronouns, not personal to one’s own life, nor dependent on one in any way.
For example, at the very next table to ours, there is a woman bent forward like a hungry, pleading arachnid, pining after a superhero fly, much larger than herself, much more important, in fact, positively ballooning out of his chair with natural and supreme function. She leans toward him, orienting herself to him, trying to draw his eyes to hers through the skillful use of dark eyeliner. The low lighting reveals the gleam of sweat on her forehead. The forest of chairs and tables and diners around the two of them are nothing to her. There is only the desire to be near her superhero as he is diffusing little castoff, half-dead particles of himself into the air.
He, on the other hand, sees her as a bit of plastic, which he will take home, and hold by the ribcage, and rescue fleetingly with his own power, until he feels the shock of himself momentarily cracking through his system. Then he will release her into the neighborhood. The neighborhood will be a new forest for her, and frightening. There she will drift toward the margins, trying pinpoint how she came there, and how she might return to her own place, not sure if she is happy or sad, or something else entirely.
One can see that it is starting, when the superhero charges the meal, and the fragile arachnid leans in to put her eighth leg in his strong hand. When they rise to leave, and the superhero circles his arm around her, right before his cape billows out, one can see that she has the red hourglass. Maybe, after all, the woman will win out. Certainly, one knows that they can’t both survive unscathed. Certainly, one knows that there will be blood. None of these dioramas contain the everlasting grail of peace; of course not.
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If you liked “The Spider and the Fly-Man,” I hope you’ll also check out my other flash pieces on this blog, “The Song in the Night,” “The Arrangement,” and “Just in Case,” as well as my short story, “Glass Eyes.” I’m working on other short fiction and a novel, which will also hopefully be available to you one day.