Microfictions by Christian Bell
Wayne Thiebaud, Balls (1963), oil on canvas, 36⅛x29¾ inches
A Story about Glass
You didn’t know this but I walked by your house everyday and I would stop and listen to the music coming from within. Your windows open. The sound of a strumming guitar. Wasn’t sure if it was live or from the stereo. Then I heard your singing one day. Words about healing broken hearts of poor children living in rusted tenements. That day I was going to write a story about glass but instead stopped and listened, leaves rustling on a day it didn’t rain.
Near the Pond Fishing
Years before we stood near the pond fishing, day fading into night. In one moment the air brushed the water surface. No voices, no sounds, except crickets, frogs, leaves. The splashing of water, the whirring of pulled line. Hey, I caught one, you said. I turned and you were gone.
At dinner you said I could never keep it short. You wanna bet, I said. Your eyes over a glass of wine: your postcards are letters, your letters novels. The clock on the wall hadn’t worked since Halloween.
Steak Tartare 7
Gordon Gekko, freed from prison, orders the steak tartare. He looks down at the meal and smiles. Greed is eternal. He’s got a plan. He takes a bite. Here is his life again.
We sent letters to your last known address hoping you were still alive. But we found out you’d been dead for 12 years. All those letters—family updates of job promotions, marriages, deaths—sent nowhere. Last week, we learned our letters had become a museum exhibit. At first, we were aghast; then, we saw it and weren’t. Viewers were moved to tears, as were we, seeing our handwriting, our words to you thought long lost. We can’t help but keep writing, this art form of you not dead, we still clinging to obscurest hope.
A Bad Day
You said, today was a day that didn’t smile. Asleep the sky shatters, cries confetti. A sunny day without sun. How? Ghosts wander dust-coated streets searching for lost souls, the way home from madness. You bury your face in my arm, cry. Why? Asleep then awake. Now you’re someone else.
They huddled on a frozen island, gathered close together like penguins. How they arrived, and why, and what would happen. The first instinct was huddle for heat. Next would be food, then how to go home. Eventually someone would climb above everyone, take command. Why is for later, now is for solutions. They wait for his promises. Boats made of air, seas leaping of cooking flames, seared fish captive on spits.
The Chinese Restaurant
The maitre d’ shouts, “Seinfeld, Four!” No one comes, so I approach, say, I’m Seinfeld. Sea bass special tonight—very fresh, he says. We follow him to a table, sit, ponder the menu. At drinks, a woman walks in, shouting for Seinfeld. Right this way, the maitre d’ says. I can hear her fuming—feet stomping, plastic and metal pieces clanging in her jacket, purse. Crab rangoon, sea urchin and spinach over noodles. She’s coming full force, steam pouring from angry head. We’ll be skipping on the bill so, as her wrecking ball purse goes airborne, what’s it matter.
Grabbing the Moon
You tried grabbing the moon when I was holding you, arm outstretched, small hand clutching for night sky. I laughed, said, you can do it, and there it was in your palm, opaque ball humming like an electric heart.
Thanks to Jonathan Everitt
Christian Bell lives near Baltimore, Maryland. His fiction has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Pindeldyboz, Skive Magazine, flashquake, Rumble Magazine, JMWW Quarterly, and Camroc Press Review. He has a blog.