Today we have a story from the archives by one of our Guest Writers. That’s right. When your flash fiction story is accepted for publication by the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette, it doesn’t get a few days on the Homepage and then just gather dust in the archives.
It is put on rotation to the Homepage for as long as this magazine is published. You can’t beat that with a stick. What other publication does that? I don’t know of any.
This magazine is published by a flash fiction writer for other flash fiction writers. So, tell all your reading and writing friends about the excitement that is the PFF Gazette.
And now for our feature presentation.
“You know,” I said, “I think I’ll have some meaning and a side dish of relevancy.”
She looked at me like I’d gone mad. The cafeteria was packed. Working men and women just like me; tired, stressed and wondering what battle their kids were fighting at school.
Sara nudged my elbow, “Give her a break.”
The large eyes of the cafeteria worker, smudged with lots of grey mascara, shifted to my friend and then back to me.
I could read her expression, why was she slopping hash to me? Obviously she should have my job and I hers.
The girl was probably working two jobs and still living in her parent’s apartment somewhere in despairing Chicago.
“We have cheeseburgers and grilled cheese.” She gave me a semi-warning, semi wondering look as she announced the menu.
“We’ll take two grilled cheese and apple sauce,” Sara announced for both of us. Then elbowing me forward she hissed in my ear, “What’s the matter with you?”
“I’m despondent, despairing and dilapidated. I’m 45, divorced again and I’m worried about my son – you know all this stuff.”
We glided by the chocolate cake, all moist and shiny looking, I knew from experience it tasted like dirt, but my hand shot out and grabbed a plate. Sara took it off my tray and put it back.
The cafeteria worker had had enough, “Hey, you can’t do that, you need to…”
“Relax, it was on her tray for two seconds,” Sara snapped and pushed me harder toward the cashier. We paid for our lunch and sat down in a dark corner, listening to the rumbling of other voices. Finally Sara put down her rubber sandwich and started in.
“Your numbers are still down.”
“Listen, everyone knows you are depressed.”
I thought of my son. I told him twice I was divorcing, once from his father and once from someone who could have been my father. I wondered how my 13-year-old boy would take a job loss. I thought of his twitching eyebrows, and tense shoulders, his brusque shrugs and heavy morning good-bye hugs. My son deserved better than me…
Outside Chicago rained and inside my friend, Sara was talking to me earnestly. Somewhere in Florida, my parents golfed and laughed on the telephone about spending my inheritance. They sent my son a Wii for Christmas.
“Are you listening to me?” asked Sara
“What are you thinking?”
“Wondering if my son will make it home, make all the ’L’ connections.”
“How is the new school?”
“Just as many bullies but more attentive teachers.”
“He hates it.”
“There is talk they’ll send our jobs to India.”
“What time do they go to work, to answer calls from the U.S.?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m taking my 401k, my son and I’m leaving Chicago.”
“Uh-huh, where will you go?”
“Down the road to Indiana, find a job, a plot of land, and make a garden.”
Later, my son smiled and waved Chicago good-bye. I smiled at my inheritance.
Bio: Sandra Woodiwiss lives and writes in Northern Indiana. www.lydiaink.com