When Georgia Simpson Awakes — by Yasmina Madden

When Georgia Simpson awakes, tangled in the blue sheets of an unfamiliar bed, she finds herself a giant, slippery, slug. She’d been dreaming of her husband, a man with beautifully tanned skin and silver-blue eyes.

Beside her gelatinous bulk lays a large, furry rodent. His face, sharp with twitching whiskers, is close to what was once her shoulder, but is now just part of the sloping mass of her moss-colored body. Georgia’s antennae twitch as she takes in the rat’s sleek apartment.

She slides away from the rat, whose hairless tail, so naked and thin, loops up from below and is clutched between his claws. When Georgia slips off the bed to the wooden floor, her feelers graze a pair of striped boxers. A trail of slime grows behind her as she glides through the rodent’s home. She hooks her purse with an antenna, and as she shuts the door behind her, glimpses the whitish marks on the floor, like the chalk outline of a mutilated corpse.

She inches down the stairs, and wonders how she can possibly explain any of this to her husband. A rippling wave moves through her, contracting as she slides forward.

On the street, no one looks twice, and Georgia wonders if her husband, perhaps, won’t either. Her antennae tremble. She decides she’ll go to the beach, a place she hates.

The gritty sand sticks to the mucus that coats Georgia’s belly, technically her foot. The slowness with which she moves is excruciating.

In the cold waves, she waits for the salt to dissolve her.
___
Yasmina
Yasmina Din Madden lives in Iowa and has published short stories, flash fiction, and nonfiction in The Masters Review: New Voices, The Idaho Review, Word Riot, Hobart, Carve, and other journals. Her story “At the Dog Park” was recently shortlisted for The Masters Review Anthology: 10 Best Stories by Emerging Authors.

Unpacking — by Yennie Cheung

He helps his teenage daughter unpack the things he could not buy her: electronics, designer clothes, a poster from some pop idol’s concert for which she’d had third row seats. She has many of these things—so many boxes and bags and suitcases full of things—that he feels squeezed out of his own home.

He doesn’t understand why she’s moving in with him. She could be spending two years in France with her mother, sunbathing on the Riviera, kissing boys with fancy accents. Instead, she has chosen his second-floor apartment overlooking the alley of a pan-Asian noodle house. He listens to the cooks on their smoke break talking in loud, guttural Mandarin, and he is certain once again that he has failed her.

She says, Remember the night I broke your toe?

Of course he does. It was the night her mother announced their divorce. They’d fought so loudly that their terrified daughter stomped on his foot to make him stop screaming. He remembers scooping her into his arms and limping away. He remembers wincing as she screeched into his shoulder and apologizing as he tucked her into her purple unicorn sheets. He had only one job back then—one goddamn job—and that was to keep his family happy. And he remembers, more than anything, hating himself for her tears.

It must have hurt badly, his daughter says now. Your foot? But you stayed at home and sang Beatles songs to me.

Not songs, plural, he says. Just one: “Golden Slumbers” over and over.

You didn’t go to the hospital until I fell asleep.

Of course not, he says. You’re more important.

Remember what Mom was doing? she says. Packing. She was packing.

She takes the poster from his hands and tosses it back into the box.

These aren’t staying, she says. These are to sell.
_____

Yennie Cheung
Yennie Cheung holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside-Palm Desert. Her writing has been published in such places as The Los Angeles Times, Word Riot, decomP magazinE, and The Best Small Fictions 2015. She lives in Los Angeles.

Tumble, Turn — by Marley Simmons Abril

After the bleak season I find spring again. It struggles upright through the sand, squeezes green from the trees. We walk the clattering beach in open air. A meager slope announces the final edge of a continent. How many thousands of miles behind us? Only six feet in front: the seam of a potent ocean. Driftwood stacks at the far reach measure storm surges and rogue currents, but today the bay is tame. Silty cliffs on both sides. Madrona and wild rose grow in tumbles, grasp the land as it slowly erodes, ride glaciers of clay. He skips stones into the sea, lessens the continent by degrees.

–Do you ever wish on them?

Wishing stones: banded and smooth. His make freckles across the skin of the water, two three five, then sunk. The day stretches blue out to the islands.

–Do you ever taste them?

He wets a dime-sized corner. I do the same. It brines my tongue, warm and fetal. Here in my palm: an ocean condensed. The spot gleams green and gold. He releases his tongue-tasted rock to the ground. I ponder the porousness of stone.

Every winter river rocks shatter in place. Vulnerable when saturated, a frost shears them at every seam. They maintain their shapes for a time, bedded in the ruts, shards composed in a careful stack, but sooner comes a careless foot to scatter, a curious hand to shred. Heat is an element but cold is only its lack: plain water and a simple lack cleave stones in their own home.

Taken from the beach, sea stones pale to the no-color of air. A fool’s notion to keep them, they shine for only a time.

–Here’s one for your dark wishes.

His laugh is a wink, a pinch, a punch. The stone is matte black with two pale bands around. It has worn unevenly, so the bands almost join at one end, but spread far from one another where the rock is thinnest. They are fragile seams, the sites of some future rupture. They orbit like I do.

We sit side by side. Seaweed ribbons the tideline. From the north, scraps of white drift in and snag on the far mountains while he claws through the pebbly beach.

–Here’s a rock for you.

Granite. Pumice. Jade green. Pink and scalloped, embossed by lichen, nobbed by barnacles, already paling in the day.

–Here’s another.

The space between us erodes. Half a shell: a two chambered heart. He lines them down my leg. Ahead of us the day tumbles blue to evening. The beach leaks out its people, circles back to dusk. I think to keep them all, every stone he chose and rowed, but they have dried to gravel and I burden my pocket with only the one. The rocky ground slows my bare steps as he walks fast in his useful shoes. I contemplate dark wishes, sorrowful gifts.

The wishing stone. In a thousand years this rock will wear and narrow, leave the white bands bulging in a persistent ridge. Or the black is denser, and the white will tighten inside like a belt, slowly pinch it in half. Or the rock will heave up from a riverbed some future winter, wet and cold and torn apart. Or it will be at rest on my dresser, between a candle and a coin, another drab object of unchanging want.
_____
thumbsupMarley Simmons Abril is an MFA candidate at Western Washington University, in Bellingham, WA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Steel Toe Review, Jeopardy, Femeninete, Menacing Hedge, and others. She is Assistant Managing Editor at Bellingham Review. She likes to build stuff.

Flash in September: A Poetry Fest and more

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

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The 2016 Southern California Poetry Festival — organized by contributor Sonia Greenfield — happens in Long Beach, Calif. Sep. 10. Contributor Lauren Eggert-Crowe and editor Siel Ju will be among the many poets reading their work.

Contributor Nicholas Rys has two poems in the latest issue of Deluge, as well as a short story at Maudlin House.

Read Contributor Wendy C. Ortiz’s nonfiction piece in the latest issue of The Lifted Brow.

The next Roar Shack reading happens Sep. 11 in Los Angeles. Contributor David Rocklin hosts and editor Siel Ju reads!

Enjoy contributors Lisa Cheby and Lauren Eggert-Crowe’s poems in the latest issue of Angels Flight Literary West.

Listen to Wendy C. Ortiz on Bindercon’s latest podcast!