They huddled among the oaks at the west side of the park. There’s a citrus colored streetlight on that corner where they divided the Roman candles between them in even numbers. Some of them made these quick defensive looks over their shoulders like they were a clutch of birds. I was walking Almo under the same color glow at the opposite end of the block and I would say that I was thinking about nothing but that’s not true. Those fleeting seconds before the explosion, I was without a doubt thinking about how I was going to explain to my daughter’s fiancé how I named the dog after a character in an ancient Roman poem. And then my hearing went and there were parts of those kids dropping out of the sky like heavy confetti. Almo jolted stiff-legged from the sound and vibration of it. My hearing went away, replaced by that high frequency thing. Some of the fireworks were still shooting from the black middle of this mess. It was a mess. I hate that it happened. They just wanted to have fun. They just wanted to be kids. Now they’re just memories of kids. I say I hate it. More like I hate that it happened to me but the rest of it is too sad to ponder at length. Too sad.
She’s dead. Or dying. No. She is dead. And she will always be dead. She will never grow old. She will never disappoint or be disappointed. Not with her looks or her age. She will always be this young. The heartache of wrinkles and blemishes will never find her. Heartbreak will never slow her down. Hate for her enemies will never guide her. She will never compete for all those frivolous things that consume other girls. She will never know betrayal. She will never receive retributions for whatever variety of innocent mistakes. She is dead. She is dead and now I will carry all her potential with me. I am certain this burden will always be mine. I am her now, in some unavoidable capacity. The blood is on my hands and her lost potential is bound to me forever. She is dead now and forever.
Ya know, even though my Dad seemed as though he could turn on us, he never did. Always fair. Always willing to listen. Reasonably reliable. I will miss him and his face. I hate that I think of how his face changed overnight. At dinner he’s my dad. At lunch he’s an old man. It scares me. I know how that sounds but you know what I mean. Then I think about other things. Things that don’t weigh as much. I love him. I always lapse into a sense of him still being around. Not in any incorporeal sense but you know, like he's in the neighborhood. More in the way I speak about him. Like, I love my dad.
A skulking darkness swallowed the gate and the soft hills of the valley as the horses sidled past the two men at the rail. Gaston had just lost faith in his grip on his tickets and shoved them into his pocket. Roberts—now known wider as El Correcaminos—wasted several minutes describing his most recent financial failure before Gaston shooshed him into silence and pointed at the horse with the large red six on his flank. That’s our boy, he said. He’ll pay today. Roberts dragged his thumb across the number on his ticket, wanting to elaborate on his difficulties. But Gaston spoke first. Sometimes, Gaston told him, things are not as detrimental as they seem. El Correcaminos offered him a worried expression. Gaston described the vacuum of space and two galaxies wrapping around one another in cosmic collision. From our vantage, the violence of this event is obvious. Then he estimated the millions of stars that populated the clusters as they whizzed past one another in the fusion. Those gargantuan structures racing headfirst at the speed of light will produce very few collisions, he said. They are so large and so porous that the violence is an illusion, Roberts. El Correcaminos couldn’t calculate Gaston’s expectation for the metaphor and he felt sure this description held no sway over current circumstances but he dared not contradict the patriarch, his missing little finger a constant reminder of their hierarchy.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
That Night Filled Mountain
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Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.