Category Archives: Flash fiction

Shaken by KC Hampton

Henry tapped his greased fingers on the steering wheel as he hummed along to a rock song that shook the speakers. He glanced at his wife, Sandra, whose gaze was fixed out the window, to the ocean below.

“Why did you go this way? You know I hate bridges,” she said.

“What?” he shouted over the music.

She jammed the radio knob in command for it to go silent. “I said, I hate bridges! I don’t know why you always go this way! Or play the music so damn loud!” she shouted.

“Because it’s the quickest way, dear,” he replied in a calm tone. “Don’t get your knickers in a wad. Your fear for bridges is just an illusion, you’ll be fine.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her gaze back out the window.

They sat in silence for a spare moment as traffic slowed down and they got stuck behind a charter bus moving at a snail’s pace.

Sandra let out a long breath. “See? I told you, we should have stuck to our usual route,” she said as her leg shook, with nerves. “We should have left work early. We’re not going to make it to the kids on time.”

“In time for what?”

“It’s Ann’s graduation day, one of the biggest days of her life. Of course, you don’t remember, you never remember.”

“Here we go again.”

“Yes, here we go again! It’s always the same thing with you! You’re always late, you never care about me or the kids—”

“Whoa, that’s not fair!”

“No, you’re right, it’s not fair, Henry! I work two jobs, still take care of the house and kids, and feed your fat ass!”

“And you don’t think I work? You don’t think I put a roof over your head? I think you should really take a hard look at the big picture before you open your smart-ass mouth again, dearest,” he said with a threat.

“I want a divorce. And I mean it this time,” she said, not taking her bloodshot eyes away from him.

Henry looked at his wife with shock and hurt in his eyes. He opened his mouth to argue when the car felt like it got a flat tire, and they swerved.

* * *

I was in the bathroom, caking on an extra layer of hair spray and makeup as I watched the tiny clock on my bathroom counter.

My siblings ran about the house with no sense. Amy yelled at Lynn to give her Cabbage Patch doll back, Lynn responded by ripping it in half and throwing it at her. Amy punched her with revenge, which was followed by screams from both girls, “Ann!”

My head was pounding with such force that I almost didn’t hear the door banging at the same rhythm, threatening my skull to explode.

I opened the door with annoyance and said, “What now? Don’t you two know I have a headache!”

“Lynn ripped my Cabbage Patch doll!” Amy shouted.

“Amy punched me!” Lynn retorted.

I bent down to see her shiny new black eye. “Oh my God! Amy, what did you do?”

“She started it!”

“No, I didn’t! Don’t lie!”

“I don’t care if the damn Cabbage Patch started it, I have to get ready and I don’t have ti—”

The floors began to roll, then the walls shook and knocked pictures onto the floor. I grabbed the screaming girls and ran to an arch in the foyer as my family has done in the past.

“Is it over?” Lynn asked as she took a step out of our safe zone.

I grabbed her and held tight. “No, wait for the aftershock.”

I waited a few minutes after the shaking had subsided before I let my sisters breathe. I raced to the TV and turned on the news.

“For those just tuning in: it’s October 17, 1989, the San Andreas Fault has ruptured, recording the largest earthquake in history. Breaking: the Oakland Bridge has collapsed.” The news lady reported.

My eyes extended wider than a full moon on Halloween night as I tried to comprehend what she just said.

“Isn’t that the bridge mom and dad take coming home?” Amy asked, worried.

“No, Mom hates bridges. Don’t worry. They’ll be fine,” I said, with as much reassurance I could have mustered.

The phone lines went dead and all we could do was wait.

Copyright © 2022 KC Hampton All rights reserved

KC Hampton writes poems and stories when she is not playing with her dog, Buca di Beppo. This is her first flash fiction submisson for the Rose City Sisters.

Queen of Diamonds by Lynn Nicholas

Six paintings sold! Carey pumped her arms overhead and swayed to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” Apropos. Her gamble on an unknown artist had paid off. Humming, Carey locked the gallery and set the alarm. The mess and champagne bottles could wait. Besides, a seat at Soboba’s Casino’s poker table, and a couple of martinis, would top off her night perfectly.
 
Except for the smokers loitering outside the dance clubs, the street was empty. The theater wasn’t out as yet. If she’d locked up an hour ago, she could have begged a lift to her car. Carey’s footsteps echoed on the pavement. The long walk to the dirt parking lot was unappealing, but tonight finding parking at all was pure luck.
 
After six blocks, the arts district merged with a once-stylish neighborhood awaiting gentrification. Carey’s feet rebelled in her narrow, new boots. But there it was, right after the fire hydrant—a cobbled alley she knew was a shortcut.
 
Carey hesitated at the entrance. During daylight hours this was just your typical graffitied alley, but after dark it was, well, dark.

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The Black Baby by Kelly I. Hitchcock

“Mommy, look! A Black baby!” bellowed my four-year-old son, Silas, in a volume characteristic of all children his age. “He’s so cuuuute!”

I felt my insides immediately freeze, unsure whether to be mortified or not. Outwardly, I kept idling my shopping cart along the grocery store aisle, being careful not to quicken or slow my pace, eyes pretending to look around for the brand of ground thyme I like but can never remember before stealing a glance at the woman wearing the tiny baby in a carrier. We couldn’t have looked more different. She was tall; I am short, not even able to reach the lone packet of Red Star yeast she effortlessly extracted from the top shelf and dropped into her cart. She had shimmering dark caramel skin; I have pasty, dull skin with freckles. She had thick African braids bundled up like a crown on her head, making her look even taller; I have thin brown hair that clings to my head like it’s afraid to go out into the world.

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Now I’ve Heard Everything by Bonnie Schroeder

“What kind of dog is that?”

“German shepherd.”

“Naah—they don’t come in black.”

“Well, that’s what she is. Recessive gene.”

“Huh? No, she’s a mutt, Lady. You got gypped.”

“Oh, all right—I’ll tell you the truth. She’s an Arcanian Bat Hound.”

“Wow! Really? I’ve never seen one before. Uh—where’d you get her?”

“I had to import her, got special permits and all. Arcania doesn’t export them normally.”

“I bet. Uh—where’s Arcania?”

“Eastern Europe. Tiny country. You’ve never heard of it, right?

“Right.”

“That’s because it’s a shadow state—keeps its existence a secret.”

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The Strange Life He Recalls by William Wren

A man with strange memories lived a few years ago. He may still be alive; I couldn’t say. We haven’t spoken in years and I’ve heard he doesn’t live in Belize anymore. I don’t have a current address.

He was a man who always dressed well. Always wore smart clothes. Fashionable, but not in the day’s fashion. A step to the side of whatever the current trend was.

A fastidious man, his hair was always groomed; face studiously clean-shaven when he didn’t have a beard or mustache. When he had either, it was always crisply trimmed.

Fingers manicured. Toes pedicured. Definitely fastidious.

His eyes held had a look of quiet concern. It seemed something permanent. He wore sunglasses all the time, day and night; cloud or sun. Continue Reading

The Pallet Thief by Pat Becker

He was of questionable character. That was a widely acknowledged fact. Yet, many would never have suspected that he would pilfer pallets in the darkest hours of the night, from the backs of drugstores, grocery stores, liquor stores being by far his favorite. It was a crime and he was a criminal. But in the dark, he felt free. He was invisible and that gave him a power he never before considered. Continue Reading

Passing Castle Green by Jackie Pugh Kogan

I was nearly to Castle Green when the wind found its way beneath my collar. Off guard because there is never much winter here even in winter, I’d left the apartment without a scarf. No, not off guard. Daydreaming. Be honest. I flipped up the hood on my thin coat.

When I’d first spotted her that hot, bright day last summer, the light intense, rendering shadows sharp, I’d been heading for the bus, as I am now, on my way to the library to shelve books for another eight hours, to waste another day. I could have been painting in good light. No! Honesty, remember? I haven’t had the oils out in more than three years. And today is winter, it’s overcast—light is needed to paint. Head cleared now? Continue Reading