Friday, March 24, 2006

Flash Fiction: What Isn't

This is a story Cate has been promising to send me for over a month now. It's about time too, I can see that she was holding out on me. This is one of those stories that after you read it all you can say is "Whoa!". That doesn't happen too often. I do not know how she manages to get so many ideas, images, etc. wrapped into such a short piece of work. It is poetic. I don't want to share too much, just read and discover for yourself.
-cube rev

Bella’s baby is wearing a striped terry cloth sleeper stained with something green. Green beans? Or maybe it’s spinach? Hard to tell. Bella’s baby lays belly down in his stroller and has powerful legs that he kicks out behind him, a frog swimming in water. Bella calls her baby’s legs his “hindquarters” as a joke. She thinks that this is funny, in the same way that people laugh after they tell a baby that it is delicious. You’re so delicious. I just want to gobble you up. Indeed, Bella’s baby’s legs are fat sausages, his complexion creamy like vanilla pudding, soft like a dumpling. Her puddin’ dumplin’with powerful hindquarters, that’s who this one is.

Bella likes this park best because the benches are spread out from each other and because there’s a nice sized playground and solid trees and a clean drinking fountain. Children come here, not teenagers who slink and slither and offer her booze, but real children: little girls in purple tights, boys with baseball caps and sweaty faces. Bella likes this bench best, too, because it is far from any of the trash receptacles, which usually stink like dog shit. The drinking fountain is behind Bella’s bench, and after glancing at her baby, Bella wanders over for a drink. The stream of water reminds Bella of ice and a Winter that is only four months away.

Bella is taking another drink when her baby begins to cry. She rushes back to her bench without wiping her mouth; some water dribbles down her chin and onto her blouse. She peers in the stroller to find her baby kicking his hindquarters and trying to lift his head. Her baby’s screams compete with the jug band shouts from the monkey bars and makes Bella’s head start to pound. She’s tired. She rarely sleeps well these days.

Bella watches the woman with the long fingers and unpolished nails reach into the stroller and pick up the baby, cradling his head in the ball of her hand. Bella wants to say to this woman, you’re dismissed, and tuck a couple of bucks into the woman’s pocket, but she can’t because she doesn’t have a couple of bucks. But this woman whispers to Bella’s baby, “Mama’s got you,” and Bella suddenly remembers that although this baby is hers, he isn’t. Just as this bench that she eases into and sleeps on is hers, but isn’t. Just as the fountain where she drinks and cools her face and washes her hands is hers, but isn’t.

This world is hers, but isn’t.

Bella can’t watch this woman hug this baby. Bella folds up the newspapers that she used as blankets the night before. She sits down and hugs her knees, instead of her baby, to her chest. She listens to children laugh in this home that is hers, but isn’t.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 3:39 PM


Anonymous The Proofreader's friend said...

Thank you for publishing Cate.....this little gem of a vignette gave me chills, it was so subtle and delicate...I loved it.
Thanks again...

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Human Z said...

WOW! What a twist in the end. Loved it!

Thanks for posting this piece.

6:43 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Did NOT see that what a fantastic story. My mind was racing...was she a teenage mother, what she a child herself, who IS Bella!!

Wow again, great story Cate. Rev you seriously rock with your choice of Artists. You didn't review her though. Ya gotta do that!!!

7:08 AM  
Blogger Lou said...

I remember when you first read me this story. I was in complete awe at the ending. Such a twist. I love great twists at the end (hence my fav movie being 'The Usual Suspects') and you nailed it here.

Great job!

7:49 AM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

Considering how anything I'd have said would literally have spoiled the twist for people I felt it best to abstain until at least some people had rread it.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Pearl said...

Lushly detailed story well told.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Cate said...

Thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting on the story, and HUGE thanks, CR, for providing the forum! You are a generous host!

7:09 AM  
Blogger jason evans said...

Cate, poignant in a disturbed way. What a great mix of reactions! Quite impressive. =D

8:33 AM  
Blogger Shesawriter said...

Very, very, very good. I agree with Jason. It's disturbing but in a good way.

1:58 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

the cube rev chooses nothing but the best. That's why I solicit most of the stuff on the sight.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous the painted pear said...

that has left me with chills, and wanting always, your writing is like a bag of chips, can't just have one

6:11 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Love this! Great choice, CR!

8:12 AM  
Blogger ann marie simard said...

Thanks for publishing Cate's story... it is great and refined.

Ann Marie

10:21 AM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

I am glad she finally let me publish something of hers.

6:53 PM  

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