Hey, all. I was home the other night and some clouds in the sky inspired me to write a tiny piece of fiction, which I originally posted only to Facebook – but figured since I’ve been trying to post more flash fiction via writing exercises on this blog, then why not here as well? It’s nothing too crazy, just a really short writing piece. Maybe it’ll lead to something bigger. Enjoy – and let me know what you think in the comments.
PS – the painting I mention in the fiction is the one I used for the default photo of this blog post – ‘Study Of Clouds’ by John Constable.
There’s a fog drifting over the city like battle smoke, but the sky is still and so it mostly just hangs overhead, illuminated by the streetlights and the headlights and the large, plate-glass windows of office buildings, where some night owls are still at work. It looks like ‘Study Of Clouds’ by John Constable, you think to yourself.
There’s salt in your nose when you walk, and you can hear your own shoes clacking on damp pavement, your own heart beating in your chest, and the distant whoosh of cars on the highway that oddly sounds very peaceful – like waves breaking over the rocks on the beach. Even if you grew up in a rough part of town and you try to make your footfalls as silent as possible, you can still hear them. You’re not fooling anyone tonight. You’re not a ninja, you’re a man in your thirties.
This is the kind of night usually reserved for a peaceful blizzard, where the snow and the silence muffle everything and create an echo chamber. But there’s no snow, there’s no rain – and you’re forced to think the thoughts clattering around in that buzzing head of yours, the one full of bees and darkness and static and a brewing storm.
And so you walk those non-silent feet of yours through the streets, you clutch your keys in your right hand in case someone attacks from out of nowhere, and you breathe in that salty air so you can taste it on your lips and you hum to yourself some random cheesy song you can’t seem to forget. I mean, how can you forget that song, anyway? You danced with your former wife to it in front of a hundred smiling people who all watched you ultimately fail. Nope – that song’s going to be in your head on the day you die.
So you find yourself in a bar, in dim light, the clouds are gone and so are those dark thoughts – for now. The bartender is cute and has dark hair and she fills your mug with a smile, lets you think you matter and so do your stories. You’re a special snowflake as long as you keep the tips coming. The beer is bitter, but finishes smooth, unlike you when you tell the bartender that pigtails are “your thing”. Suddenly you’re fighting to get refills. You can take a hint.
You leave and go back out into the salty night and you’re like a shadow on two legs, in more ways than one. A wraith among the living. It’s almost like you’re realizing it for the first time, but you’ve been gone for much longer, and the whole world has already moved on.