#thesideshow March 26th 2016 The Sky is Green by Chelsea DeLong- Flash Fiction
March 26, 2016
An Easter Fucking Funny by Alex Schumacher
March 26, 2016

#thesideshow March 26th 2016 Helen Gainly- 2 Flash Fictions

Cement Sky

There was Jeanie, stuck up against the reeds and the green brown summer slime all around her ankles. Fitz pressed a last cigarette to his cracked lips and they waded up to Virginia Bridge where the old hardtops passed idle by. She had the baby in her arms and was once holding it over the edge of the bridge, then rolling the blue blanket around the face. The blanket was sick blue and Fitz was reeling with the first puff when he noticed. Go on ahead, he was nodding and Jeanie had a streak of mud tears down one cheek. She was bursting open, the sun humming down thin and watery through the bridge shadow. The light wobbled and was trapped in the red, white prehistory of the riverbed, then cast out wide in a net that scraped the bottom of the bridge and curled around Jeanie’s wet chin. She bobbed up and down on saddle hips with the baby squinting hard in full sun.

Vagabond teens were queuing on the rocks below. They drove soft nailed hands into the water and came out holding rough river clams, blooming green under life. Now one of the old Buicks slowed on the bridge and took in late September with a royal glance. He tossed a smile at Jeanie while she dipped her hips low again, the baby warbling up a steely, desperate sound. The cigarette fell from Fitz’s mouth and landed soft on the water’s surface. He struggled with Jeanie and had the baby in his arms, a finger pricked in on the blue blanket. The baby moved swollen limbs in slow motion and Fitz eyed the teens jamming heads down under water, the young boys fielding empty years that crackled and sparked in the near distance. Jeanie had the streaks on her face again and her thin bamboo arms pale, spotted, swung empty at her sides. Fresh plumes came off the river with a green smell that had her jangling at the fence with her two lucky knuckles. Go on, Fitz nodded again and he handed the baby back to Jeanie. She laid the bundle down on a stretch of gummy concrete and stepped back. The legs kicked out with the slow pump of a new caterpillar.

Fitz rubbed against his own fingerprints, jutted his hand out half way, but a hot jolt passed his eye and he crushed his fingers back in his no money pockets. A young smile spread out under the mud streaks on Jeanie’s face as her hands stretched up against the thin sun. She was breathing wide, heavy, her two knuckles playing keys on the wire fence. The teens were high up in the trees now, swinging feral legs against a feather breeze. Fitz looked down through the red wire and tried to catch an eye, but they were full speed on to the tops of the laurel boughs. He took a last look at the bundle and moved the blanket up over its face. Rubbing the seeds from his socks, he slumped on towards the low roar of the freeway with the sound of Jeanie’s wet feet slapping on the pavement behind him.


Strays

The shadow opens up and the valley spreads out below. I ride the fresh roads into the vineyards and come up hard on the pink neon zigzag hanging above the dried out vines. Summer again, and the blue pits across the way strangle up a bark from out of the heat, twisting on the end of a rope that shoots up a fine dust with every twist. The field is empty when I reach the edge. A night bird takes a quiet route above the caved roof where the winery was and where the wine barrels fall sideways on a cracked ground. The water beside the field pulses, fringes out on the tallgrass, and the field becomes purple with a bow-shaped sun slung low between the hills. I am here again with the old grin, fingers jamming sweet knuckle to knuckle in my pocket, pressing up against what is now the full sum of me, bone fighting against the oil sheen of an ashen pelt.

There is a firm slab of mud across the front of my shirt where the river slipped in and hardened. The car is ticking hot behind me and the night bird slips through the field, nips the water and settles in the trees. That is where I see him, fielding past a line of broken barrels. He takes a bilge hoop in hand, shape of a whale’s rib, and swats at the thundercloud of mosquitos above his head. Under his arm, a small lump shifts sideways as he leaps over a barrel and lands heavy in the grass that breaks and leans. He reaches me and I can see the lump in his arms is a backgammon case with pressed leather, and he is not smirking. Three broad creases rumple the half cut of each eye. He does not ask me how I am but eyes the gray matte of my flesh that canes out of my too large shirt sleeves with the weight and influence of mummified reeds. Pressing a splinter between his teeth, he holds out the backgammon case and a breezy shrug crosses his shoulders. He nods and I lift up the rust latches. The hinges whine and the pressed on silence of the field rises up with more aggression. Rose oil balms out and shakes against the dust.

Inside, there are some of her things. A vile of liquor on a black twine string, a pill case. I see the scrap of robin blue fabric I ripped from the small of her back. There was a slip of lace attached there and it is half undone now, hinging off the brittle edge of the blue cotton. Everything is worn with a coat of red dirt that rubs heavy in the fibers, runs finger lines across the velvet case bottom. One or two draughts knock against the sides and run up on her things, the little vial, the folded paper. I take that out next and scan over her hand that is young, fast. I consider the shades of yellow that year, the bright offshoot of that thin and still beating slice of time. The draughts knock together and I turn back to the man with his hands twisting together. He expects something, so I hold out a bill and the little vile, which he curls up into a fisted paw and presses to his nose as he turns to leave.

Once he is back behind the trees I click down on the case locks and hold it soft in both hands. Now the night bird shifts its white wings and comes low near the top of the grass. The sun has blown out and left just the thick purple after shock. I take a last look out here and grow still trying to gather up the ripple she’s left behind. Glancing out past the sideways barrels, I think I see her open mouth still perched at the edge of last summer’s one word grass field. Her teeth come together and the solid taste is that of a red and dancing pond life.