Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eighth piece of flash fiction in this weekly series. This week’s piece is a 249-worder entitled ‘Curbside’ by writer Ken Weene.
The woman was without question flotsam washed into that doorway. Curled into an aged fetus, gray hair askew, rag coat cinched by clothesline and safety pins. Something to be avoided.
And avoided she was. Shifting their glances people slipped past. Not even a tut-tut or a so sad was uttered, for to do so might somehow obligate.
Carolyn would have chosen to do the same, but her Cairn terrier would not permit. Scruffy poked and prodded the derelict, smelling, biting, licking her face.
The woman didn’t respond.
Faced with her own discomfort, Carolyn called the police.
“A homeless person dying isn’t a police emergency,” the operator said.
Carolyn persisted. Reluctantly an ambulance was dispatched.
Unexpectedly, the woman survived – at least until the next day, when Carolyn, feeling a Chinese curse of responsibility, visited her on the ward for the terminal and aged, for the indigent and hapless.
The old woman’s breath was shallow and labored. Carolyn could hear the wheeze of her effort. Still the woman spoke. First there was appreciation. Then a promise of rewards to someday come.
When Carolyn took her leave, she asked the nurse how the old woman was doing.
“Let’s say she’s running her last dash.”
“Aren’t we always too late?” Carolyn responded.
On the way home she stopped at a florist. Yes, the bouquet could be delivered to her mother’s grave. Yes, many years too late. Why then, Carolyn mused, did she feel it was she who had received something of precious value?
Wow. I asked Ken what prompted this piece and he said…
I was in residence at The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, which is a place where writers can go to have time and place just to write without other distraction and responsibility. While I was there, one of the staff read one of my novels, Memoirs From the Asylum, and was sharing memories it evoked in her; her mother had been hospitalized for some time, and the then-young girl had spent countless hours at on that psychiatric ward.
That night I was thinking about her obvious pain but also the release she seemed to achieve by sharing her memory with someone – me – whom she felt would understand. It seemed that somehow in reading my novel she had achieved some greater capacity to love her mother despite the hurt of her youth.
Then came the story.
And what a story. Thank you Ken. 🙂
A New Englander by upbringing and inclination, Kenneth Weene is a teacher, psychologist and pastoral counselor by education. He is a writer by passion. Ken’s short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Sol Spirits, Palo Verde Pages, Vox Poetica Clutching at Straws, The Word Place, Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, The New Flesh Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Daily Flashes of Erotica Quarterly, Bewildering Stories, A Word With You Press, Mirror Dance, and The Aurorean. Ken’s novels, Widow’s Walk and Memoirs From the Asylum are published by All Things That Matter Press. ATTMP will soon be bringing out Tales From the Dew Drop Inne: Because there’s one in every town. To learn more about Ken’s writing visit: http://www.authorkenweene.com.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.