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Grief and Awe by Arya-francesca Jenkins | flash fiction |#thesideshow

Grief and Awe by Arya-francesca Jenkins | flash fiction |#thesideshow

They were together at last after his two years of active duty, and every moment now was something to keep and not discard. He snapped a picture of her stretched out, eyes faintly open, hair staining the mangled pillow, admiring the contrast on his brand new Android.

She sighed just as he smelled smoke. Then came a loud creak, the slamming of a heavy door, then a screen door, followed by a woman’s shrill scream. He turned and saw black smoke, hissing flames, a combustion next door, this that was not his finally to control. Soon, emergency vehicles raced toward them to beat the thing down as frazzled heads leaned out windows up and down the street to capture the whirring lights, immense hoses set loose, their vast force quelling all but grief and awe.

Now children too at windows pointed at human outbursts below and blankets encircled the grieving propped on hard cots in tech-y white un-inviting interiors that reassured once and for all with the gentle, precise shutting of a white door against night and its terrors.

The ambulance and fire trucks beat a hasty retreat, watchers in helmets last. They shook their heads at charcoal debris as if everything lost had belonged to them, wondering perhaps if such annihilation erases even memory. In the aftermath, the idea of almost and could have been still quivered overhead not yet departed, and no sleep followed, or hope for it, among those that had observed what had happened.

     Let’s go see a movie, she said, panicky, and he smiled tenderly at her in the darkness.

I hope they’re all right, she added.

The back of his hand brushed her cheek as if to pull night’s cover over her, to keep away all harm and evil forward and back, knowing how futile this was–for innocence flees only once and those that live burning know this, residing as they do always on the verge of almost-but-not-quite. He reminded himself he had done the right thing once, partaking, and now, steering clear, and even now, closer still, coming to the edge of her, this woman, almost here. The burning he had experienced over there was in his veins and in his eyes, long as he was awake. Only when he looked at her did the brightness shutter into something else, the kindness of darkness and its hovering silence everywhere.

Arya F. Jenkins’s poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared recently in journals such as Agave Magazine, Brilliant Corners, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Dying Dahlia Review, The Feminist Wire, and Provincetown Arts Magazine. Her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. She writes jazz fiction for Jerry Jazz Musician, an online zine. Publications are forthcoming in Black Scat Review, Burrow Press Review, Cider Press Review, and Sinister Wisdom. Her second poetry chapbook, Silence Has A Name, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press.