Issue Nineteen - Winter 2012

Such Things Hardly Matter

Flash Fiction by Erika Brumett

Not that gin-sweat dizzies her. Not that wool chafes her cheek when he dances them through the house, stumbling to spin her white nightie, her body still soft with sleep. No, this is not to suggest that her uncle has a harmonica and wide smile. Or that he has woken her to waltz wild into an end-table collectable: a porcelain girl praying. It does not imply that he has again forgotten her mother, who sits alone at The Wild Horse in a plastic booth, in a hat with holly, in a stupor slumping. Which means neither everything, nor anything at all.

This is not about winter wind. Not about the way it hardens her feet to hooves in the doorway. Nor the way it billows his coat and arcs his piss metallic in the moonlight.

There is nothing to say about his silhouette on the porch. Nothing to say about the song he sings that stops dead with the bolt, and the sound her name makes when he yells it through the keyhole. Such things hardly matter. Like the glass figurine now glinting in three on the floorboards. Like her mother, left. Like his fingers prodding, “Let us in!” through the mail-slot, and her heart hard-pumping on its own.

This could hint at the nothing she feels, and the fold of the curtain- just so- to see him sway, pivot toward the porch railing, and tip, arms windmilling against black. This could mean something. But not, necessarily, that she heard him hit wet pavement. Or that she never called for help, even though he once brought her a live jumping bean all the way from Panama. This is not about that. Yet it could reflect her face in the window, and, hours later, ambulance lights in a puddle. But this speaks neither to what happened, nor to what could have been.

Copyright Brumett 2012