autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Fast Fiction – Shriven

Fast fiction is a piece that drops you into the deep end with no context or exposition and leads the reader to both as part of the work.

Looking at the swaths of auburn hair in the sink, she ran curious hands over her head; the stubbly feel was softly abrasive on the palm. The clippers, uncomfortably warm, sat on the sink top to cool while she turned to the clean up.

It was odd, really, the way it happened. Every time. The annoyance and upkeep and disappointments of its fineness, it’s utter mousiness was cumulative. She pondered the notion of metaphors as the door rattled and breakfast gently whisked its arrival via trolley. 

“Thanks,” she muttered, moving to the other side and seating herself as the deliverer exited without the usual palming for tips (this, an old joke developed over time, now a bittersweet sign of friendship). 

Breakfast was always her favorite meal of the day. Had cholesterol allowed, she would cheerfully have “breakfast” at every meal. Appreciatively, she lifted the cover and hungrily gazed upon biscuits that were light as air, a home-made sausage gravy ladled over top, a small set of scrambled eggs, Irish style, with shredded colby and a light dusting of cracked pepper atop. The plate was balanced by two strips of thick-cut, apple-wood smoked bacon, cooked so crisp as to be but slightly under burnt.

Life was good. She poured the press of Sumatra, stirred in a small amount of cream, and added a heaping teaspoon of Stevia and sighed with contentment before digging into the meal properly.

As the remains of the meal were cleared, her first appointment of the day arrived. Soberly, he sat with her and conveyed the morning’s plan and his intention of working alongside until its completion. She nodded, already absent-minded as she pulled her correspondence from its folder and turned to reviewing and completing it.

Now and again, she’d ask him for citations; he professionally provided them in a way that she knew indicated a level of practical study she would simply never aspire to this life. Her mental frame jittered slightly at the thought; wasn’t it a shame that we are such blips of being? She always told friends that she didn’t want to live forever, just until she was bored.

Not that it mattered.

Correspondence completed, all other things being in order, there was nothing left to do but wait for the end of day. The countdown to midnight, the last, longest mile, the discreet auditorium with its small audience of witnesses.

The attendants were gentle, but relentless as she was strapped to the table. The silence of the black phone on the wall of the room was a strangling thing. Dear, sweet Rinpoche in saffron and red robes began his Bardo prayers as the last minute passed in that aching, terrible silence. 

“Now I lay me down to sleep; no more sorrow, no more to weep.”

“I am innocent.”

“I am sleepy.”

She closed her eyes.