days later—perhaps it was four—Ellen found herself on her
brother's front stoop.
happened?” Nate asked, ushering her to the kitchen table.
laughed and struck a match: The telling of this story, of course,
required the prop of a cigarette. “It was the day they emptied the
pumps?” He frowned.
hydrants,” she said and he nodded. “Lined up like wounded
soldiers.” Gallons of brown water had spewed forth, bleeding out
into the street. The water from smaller roads, branched off like
tributaries and joined the flow. It quickened and swirled, gathering
up leaves and twigs, dragging them under the surface and towards the
wondered what it felt like to drown.
walked along the river-street in silence, wondering where the
children were.” She laughed. “Perhaps children no longer dance in
Nate said, by way of explanation.
went home after the lunch shift, fingering the tip money in my
pocket, planning on surprising Billy with a new pick for his guitar.”
She laughed. “I'm sure that sounds silly to you, a ten dollar
shook his head. “No...”
fixed myself a mug of tea and sat at the window of the apartment,
waiting for him. I watched the sky slowly darken. I studied the
branches of the trees, their empty fingers grasping.” She smiled at
him. “A tinge of red belted the sky and I wished more than anything
I could paint.”
studied his hands.
time wishes are the worst.”
you can still...”
worked day and night, he claimed, to establish himself. To provide
for us.” She shook her head. “The truth was, I was doing all the
providing. He was just playing around.” When the sky was stained
with the rising sun, he let himself into the apartment, his guitar
case dangling from his right hand. She'd startled and spilled her
tea—now cold—onto the couch. She'd sworn: Dammit.
just stood there, grinning at me, stubbly chin, greasy hair, wrinkled
clothes. Looking at him, I knew suddenly that he had someone else,
that all this talk of practicing and recording was just a cover. She
took a drag on her cigarette and exhaled through her nose. “He
plugged his stupid guitar into the amp on the living room floor.
'Listen to this, Ellen,' he said. 'I wrote it for you.' He launched
into a complicated pattern of notes; loud and discordant and frankly,
rose, poured two glasses of chocolate milk.
him, I knew that he was not a musician; would never be a musician.
He smiled as he took his hands from the guitar
and the sonic blast stopped. 'I call it the Glorious Om Riff,' he
snorted chocolate milk through his nose and she was reminded of third
grade lunches. “The telephone rang. It was the landlord. 'That's
it,' he told me. 'Third time.'”
did Billy do?”
disappeared into the bedroom and closed the door. Typical.” She
dabbed at a spot of milk Nate had missed. “I went to the bathroom;
filled the tub. Then I took his guitar and tossed it in.”
eyes widened and Ellen giggled.
“An om is not to be riffed,
mean it,” she continued. “An om is to be ridden gently;
to be surrendered to. Like brittle leaves upon a river. Like sticks
riding a wave, bobbing gently before coming up for air.”
She realized, then,
that she'd already known what it felt like, to drown.
Now she would learn
how to swim.
Perhaps even to
the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Eric Storch
gave me this prompt: He smiled as he took his hands from the
guitar and the sonic blast stopped. "I call it the Glorious Om
Labels: Fiction, flash fiction, scriptic.org