Joelle McTigue

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction

Breaks the Rain

The sky tonight is the color of ripe guava, accented by the two faint points of my three-day-old stubble. I place myself on the edge of a cement wall; the sidewalk is still damp from the morning mud.

The open-air club is empty now, aside from a few night owls. I can hear the drops of rain splashing on a tin barricade. I miss the rain, even from the dirtiest, dustiest alley in town.

The rain falls heavier, and the city traffic in the distance streams past the soft shoop of wheels racing the pavement.

A man dressed in a white suit closes the barricaded street. He puts his hands in front of his waist and, in turn, breaks the rain. Like a virgin of the night, the fog rose from the sea. Around me, the streets were empty, but above me, the city was full of life.

I walk away from the sea. I walk the same way I came.

The thin shadow of the passing vessel, in its slow movement, shapes the undulating surface of the sea. And, gusts of wind gild each golden ripple.

The sea is ruddy. The sound of breaking waves and shapers of radiance slows the brain and heart of the captain. The golden light of the surface fades to grayness, and the waves shatter.

The sea, in its entirety, is a crown. Everything is tall, and everything is wide. Everything is somehow beautiful—and a benevolent divide between each fragment. A humble admiration fills the mind.

Flash Fiction

Over the Railing

I should have left the light off. I reach the landing, and I don’t know which apartment patio I will pass—the trees outside the balcony overhang to the balcony below. A bird, flushed from inside, screams in the branches. I ease myself over the railing.

The bird cries louder and escapes the branches’ grip. I walk weightlessly along with the balcony and feel that I am outside of myself. Not the self I always thought of, but the self that I wish I was. The self I am trying to become. The birds fly around my head. A dragonfly passes. Others follow.

From my bedroom, I see it. The light. The light. I go to the window, and it feels like I did not close the blinds in a long time.

The light pulls back, and the balcony feels more substantial. My body rests against the railing again. My heart pumps. My headaches. Is it its intensity? Or is it a hangover? I can feel my heart by my ear, but I run my hand through my hair and feel nothing except hair.

I touch the blood on my mouth. I wish I could see. I hold my hands to my face. Then I pull them away.

The stars are lit. I turn back to the light. And it is still there.

A long shadow sticks to my balcony. Something is watching me. My gaze focuses on the porch. The door opens. I inhale a deep breath.

The familiar weight of judgment moves in. But, as it draws closer, I realize it isn’t judgment but hope. And wonder. And sadness. And anticipation.

I walk to the door, my relief unburdened. He pauses. His suit is wrinkled from the journey. And his hair. His hair is standing straight up.

I greet him again. He looks at me. I look at him. Our eyes meet.

I say his name. It makes my heart beat like it does when the heart beats under the ear. So again, I try, “Hi, Dad.”

The second sliver of moon sneaks up, and then the light. The familiar glow of his presence.

We look at each other once more, and this time I wait for recognition.

I see him, but he looks through me. I walk into the light. And the light becomes me as he slams the door behind us.

Flash Fiction

The Violet-Gray

“That’s it.” He squints his icy eyes, “There is no one here. Nobody else. Not a soul left.”

The captain and the crewmate exchange fast, abstract verbal gestures at the seagulls. The playful assaults of the words flow into punches of sound and, in navy blue rainbows, spill arid silver droplets.

And, their beady eyes open wide in final gazes. Pale, sickly light of recognition licks their jaded, jagged beaks. Then, the seagulls bare their intention, and the licking fades.

The captain’s dark lips part to emit his final words. The crewmate closes his eyes and withdraws.

“Sorry.” He breathes out, and smog thickens the rain.

“You should be.”

The seagulls shriek with laughter, and their wings beat the water. The air around them is vibrant. The earthy smells of sulfur and rain drift by.

And, the sea air lifts the captain and the crewmate straight up.

Light spills from a crack in the sky and drops the captain and the crew into it.

The sunsets beyond the deep and dark sea as the crewmate’s eyes drift open. He shakes his head, and then he blinks away the trickling water. The crewmate pushes himself up onto the railing of the bow.

The captain drifts further down into the violet-gray sea. His jet black hair, the color of night, floats behind him in the dark flow of the sea.

“I do not have a son. But…the dark sea lightened and this moment…it is as though….” The sea fog pours into the captain’s voice. “As though…we are….” The crewmate’s eyes fill with tears.

The captain shows a maniacal grin. The crewmate’s incredulous stare cuts through the fog.

“You are my son!” the captain says. “And as you too, my father.” He looks down at sea. “And, as you, my mother!”

The crewmate stares through black lips and watches the dark sea wash over the captain.

And, the frail golden light of the sun says goodbye to them one last time.

And, to this—their love—the sea remains silent to their story.

All Photo Credits: Unsplash, All Text Credits: Joelle McTigue