The Things We Give — by JSP Jacobs

When I sleep, the ghost of me leaves my body and haunts my childhood home.

The new owner was at first frightened, then grateful for the company. She’s old, alone, hair white and wild as milkweed seed. She wears soft fabrics I want to rub between my fingers.

She has given me a key to let myself in if she’s gone, tells me to empty my pockets on her bureau so she’ll know I’ve been there. I keep the key tucked in my sock for safekeeping.

If she’s home, she makes us butter sandwiches and we sit, side by side, watching Frasier reruns, the light of the television shining through my transparent skin, bluing the highways of my veins. My sadness is a gray lump in my stomach. An x-ray. I can’t hide it.

One night, I show her the spot in my mother’s old bedroom where she gave birth to me and later died. “I came so quickly, she didn’t even have time to grab her purse.”

“Oh, this is where I would’ve picked to have a baby,” says the old woman, “Where I would have had a dozen, just like you. Do you have children?”

“No,” I answer, “I’m quite alone, too.”

She puts her hands inside my ghost belly, waves them around like a magic trick. She tips her head back; her mouth falls open lightly, breath peppermint and tea. She counts to nine.

“There,” she says. “Now you’ll give birth to a baby girl in spring. You can name her after me– Griselda. And if she is a real girl, she can have this house. And if she is a ghost girl, she can have this house.”

Griselda hugs me. Her arms pass through my body and back around to embrace herself. I hold very still, though, so she can feel me near, maybe hear me breathing, my lips at her ear.

JSP JacobsJSP Jacobs is a graduate of the Boise State University Creative Writing program and Tin House Workshop. She lives and writes between Boise, Idaho and Huntington Beach, California. Her fiction, flash fiction, narrative non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Nano Fiction, Hawaii Pacific Review, Parent Map, and Litbreak. She is also former host of The Writers’ Block on Radio Boise.

Fetch Me That Jimson Weed — by Christopher Citro

Each of these malfunctioning androids around me on the street can tell I’m a man who used to own moonflowers, more than I could count. A younger man I was then, as they say. A different man I was then. I’d grab him now, if I could, enlist the aid of a passing android and demand, What have you done? There’s a guy who sits on crates at an intersection yelling at drivers, I can see dead people. The pole at his back covered in RIP So and So, Rest in Peace This One and That. Maybe he could help. My hammock at the time was unusable for a cloud of mosquitoes that never lifted. She said, Maybe the neighbor’s pool is full of stagnant water. I thought she was going to tell me she could see dead people. The lid of the sky has lifted this morning and all I can think about is how, in the middle of the day, they were these tight green squints. Come night, great white wings unfurling under the eaves. The scent in through the kitchen windows, ghost breath, android cologne, years drifting down a sweet and spindly stem.

Christopher Citro_HeadshotChristopher Citro is the author of The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy (Steel Toe Books, 2015). He won the 2015 Poetry Competition at Columbia Journal, and his publications include poetry in Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Best New Poets, Sixth Finch, and Poetry Northwest, and creative nonfiction in Boulevard and Colorado Review.

The Other Metamorphoses — by Sonia Greenfield

As George Clooney awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a middle-class mother of three named Natalie Gregerson. Meanwhile, across town, Natalie Gregerson awoke from uneasy dreams and found herself transformed into George Clooney. George Clooney stretched for a while in the bed and, on his back, traced with his well-manicured fingernail the stretch marks like tired war paint that ran down his deflated belly. Natalie Gregerson, now George Clooney, wasted little time before she strode, her dick gently bouncing against her thighs, into the bathroom to let out a long, hard stream of piss while she glanced at the tub full of abandoned bath toys and washcloths. The day was only going to get better once she showed up at her daughter’s co-op preschool with all those yoga mommies following her around like hens. Her tasteful salt-and-pepper hair and Armani like a bright red cockscomb. Likewise, as a giant cockroach awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his niche in the wall into a Swallowtail Butterfly, but the niche being what it was, the newly transformed cockroach was unable to open its wings and found itself trapped where it was once able to skitter, unbound by beauty. It died inside the wall where it was consumed by a mouse, which, incidentally, used to be a potted geranium dangling from George Clooney’s Italian villa.

Sonia Greenfield
Sonia Greenfield‘s fiction has appeared in a variety of places, including PANK Online, the Bellevue Literary Review, and Sequestrum. Her first book of poems, Boy with a Halo at the Farmer’s Market won the Codhill Poetry Prize for 2014. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son and teaches writing at USC.

Flash in March: Meet Us at AWP and beyond

Where to read, hear, and meet your favorite Flash Flash Click contributors:

Don’t miss the next Roar Shack reading, happening March 13 at 826 LA in Los Angeles, hosted by contributor David Rocklin!

Enjoy contributor Lisa Locascio’s story “Shut Down,” now up at Angels Flight literary west!

Come to Bindercon LA and meet contributor Lauren Eggert-Crowe and editor Siel Ju at their panel, How to Build a Writing Community, on March 19 at 2 pm at UCLA.

Contributor Anna Scotti‘s story “How I Ended Up Here” got an honorable mention for Bayou Magazine’s James Knudsen Prize for fiction.

Editor Siel Ju will read at the Best of the West Reading at Villains Tavern in Los Angeles, hosted by The Los Angeles Review, Pacifica Literary Review, and CutBank on March 31 at 6 pm.

The AWP panel The Flash Sequence: A Reading and Discussion will feature contributors Robert Alexander and Sonia Greenfield (whose work will debut on Flash next week!), as well as editor Siel Ju. Meet us all on April 1 at 9 am.

Don’t miss contributor Mary Rechner, who’ll moderate an AWP panel — A Writer’s Guide to Political Advocacy — on April 1 at 3 pm.

A special Vermin on the Mount reading happens April 2 at pehrspace in Los Angeles. Contributor Jim Ruland will host — along with Razorcake!

Then head over to the New Short Fiction Series 20th Anniversary reading. Mary Rechner‘s story “Short Sale,” originally published in the Burnside Review, will be performed on April 1 at 6:30 pm at The Regent Theater in Los Angeles.

Contributors Lauren Becker and Bryan Hurt will be out and about during AWP — Stop them and say hello!

Read Anna Scotti’s ekphrasis, “I See What We Must Become,” in the Iron Horse Literary Review’s Photo Finish issue.

Chicagoans: Hear contributor Lisa Locascio read at the art exhibit opening for Frances F. Denny! Stop by the Schneider Gallery on April 1 at 5 pm.

Lisa Locascio will read for Californian audiences too at the Los Angeles Review issue launch reading on April 7 at 7 PM at Flintridge Bookstore.

Watchlist: 32 Short Stories by Persons of Interest, edited by contributor Bryan Hurt, has been sold into translation in Italian and Turkish!

Find Anna Scotti‘s essay “Fourteen” in The Wonder Institute’s compilation Wonder.

Mentor — by Cathleen Calbert

Each summer, the Vampire Lady is visited by a few Lost Girls: Girl Scouts in their fascist uniforms; Camp Fire Girls with their made-up Indian names (“Wa-ne-bot-ee”); Little Stars and Brownies, as cute as cookies; and even the occasional blue-skinned loner, not associated with any organizational privileges. All scuff their shoes and rattle her bell loose until she lets them in, then offers up red lemonade they won’t drink and black jellybeans they surreptitiously spit into her ferns. The girls say they want to sell the Vampire Lady boxes of polyunsaturated fats or cans of BPA peanuts or subscriptions to ridiculous magazines, but they seem to her to be asking for wisdom, which she gives, with no salt or sugar-coating: Leave the Styrofoam and yarn alone; you’ll never make that octopus. Don’t knit: no one wants it. Never stencil leaves on anything. For sex: bleachers, bathrooms, and movie theaters will do the trick. For love: look into your mirror. For direction: look to the strange lady on the bus or hunched over a bar-top. She’ll tell you the news.

Cathleen Calbert
Cathleen Calbert’s writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, The New York Times, and The Paris Review. She has published three books poems: Lessons in Space, Bad Judgment, and Sleeping with a Famous Poet. Her fourth, The Afflicted Girls, is forthcoming from Little Red Tree. She has been awarded The Nation Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Mary Tucker Thorp Award from Rhode Island College.

How To Be My Boy — by Lisa Locascio

Have light eyes, or light in your eyes. Have soft hands or rough. Be taller than me. Shorter. Hold me in your vision. In your light. I am the fruit that contains the last possible slaking of your thirst. Do not forget this.

Have a way. Haberdash. Fine cotton buttondown, cashmere sweater, thin white undershirt. Peel whatever off your heaving chest. Leave your belt to me. Bury my face in the hair over your heart.

Show up for me. Come at dusk and at dawn and come. Wherever you are be with me. Remember my name. Stroke it in your mind. Call it from heart and groin. Two syllables out of you like an exclamation. Be grateful when you touch me. Not gentle. Take off your socks. I’m serious. Right now. Do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars. Nothing until you take off your socks.

Reveal to me the secrets of your body. The pale undersides of your feet, your goatish thigh fur, your eminently chewable eyebrow. The wrinkled dignity of the perineum, the tender secrets of your back. Guide my fingertips across the bas-relief of scars and markings, fissures and veins. Put one in my hand still singing. Lie down in the space you make for me and I rise up around you in a storm. What is that expression on your face, when we meet? It better be a smile of mild astonishment.

Whatever else you are you are always new, clad in a black silk habit beat about your body by the wind on the bare plain. Hair blown back over your forehead. Seeing with your fair eyes. Your mouth taking color from inside my own.

Do you hear thunder? Lightning is next. Go inside. Get on your knees. Open your mouth.

Lisa Locascio
Lisa Locascio‘s work has or will appear in n+1, The Believer, Salon, Bookforum, Los Angeles Review, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn, among others. She edits the Los Angeles and San Francisco editions of Joyland, and at the new ekphrastic collaboration magazine 7×7. Witch concerns and lesser History Channel miniseries / Teen Mom franchise livetweets can be had @senzaflash.