Two Stories by Linda McMullen

Flesh of Your Flesh by Riam Griswold
June 14, 2018
2 poems by Nathan Tompkins
June 16, 2018

A Monumental Meeting

Lady Liberty called the meeting to order, noting, as always, that she welcomed the tired, the poor, and a diversity of views.  “I won’t waste time recapitulating.  We know why we’re here.  They can’t go on like this.”

The Leshan Great Buddha interjected.  “Suffering exists.  We must begin by recognizing this fundamental truth.”

Lady Liberty said, briskly, “Yes,” then silently chided herself: All contributions are welcome.

Big Ben chimed in. “We’ve got to do something.”

The Rushmore quartet agreed.  Teddy proposed a big stick-based solution, but Christ the Redeemer slowly shook his head.

Lady Liberty warily recognized the Sphinx, whose musings were normally impenetrable.  “Man is the answer.”

The Rushmore men immediately objected in favor of Christ.  Christ the Redeemer delicately reminded them that he had already devoted hundreds of pages to his instructions for mankind, and had helpfully summarized them in Mark 12:31: Love thy neighbor.

“That’s quite correct,” observed Big Ben, “but their hour has not yet come.”

“The chair recognizes the delegate from Easter Island,” sighed Lady Liberty.

Paro said, “We must look to the past, and the great men who have come before.”

Lady Liberty said, “You’re exactly right,” and turned to the Rushmore men.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” said Thomas.

Lady Liberty arched an eyebrow.  “Other suggestions?”

“Isn’t the answer self-evident?” asked Thomas.  “We’ve got to educate the people.  Encourage them to remember not their entitlements, but their duties.  Enlighten them.”

“There isn’t time,” interjected Big Ben.

“We’ve been shining examples to them for decades –” began Lady Liberty.

“Centuries,” murmured the Sphinx.

“We must help unify the people.  A house divided…” Abe warned.

George said, “Don’t despair.  Truth will ultimately prevail.”

“Oh, George,” sighed Lady Liberty.  “It’s being dismissed as fake news.”

 


Just the Answers

 

A: Yes, of course.  At the Christmas party.  I have a meeting in fifteen minutes, but…

A: If you want to.  It catches a little on the frame.

A: I don’t, know actually.

A: Just paper towels, and – are you OK?  No, please slow down, I can’t –

A: Never.  It never, ever went that far–

A: …yes.  Just once.  And both of us immediately realized –

A: – eight years.  I know.  For me, it’s been ten –

A: Yes, I did.  And yes, he was angry, and betrayed, and we’re working on –

A: I know you’ve got two –

A: Yes, that’s her.

A: Four.

A: Of course it’s not the kind of example I –

A: Look, neither of us intended – after Peter left, it was just the two of us keeping the unit afloat and –

A: It’s not an excuse, I’m just trying to –

A: I’m not planning to ruin anyone’s career.

A: Of course, but not the way you think.  You can’t work so closely with someone for so long and not

A: We’ve never uttered those words.

A: Neither of us are in a position to –

A: I’m sorry that it happened, and I’m sorry that you’re hurt.  But can I please remind you that it took two?  He also –

A: I do have to get to my meeting.

A: I suggest you ask him.

 


Linda McMullen‘s short stories appeared in December 2017/January 2018 in Burningword (‘Aurora’), Typishly (‘The Announcement’), Panoply (‘Flavia’) and Open: Journal of Arts and Letters (‘Elaine’s Idyll’). Her short story ‘Diplomatic Rupture’ has been accepted by Palaver for its May 2018 issue. Linda is also a wife, mother, and U.S. diplomat, currently home on a domestic rotation, but most often found in Africa or Southeast Asia.