Flash Fiction: Only Here. Only Now.

I am having fun getting my WP pages in each day! Here is flash fiction pulled from a Lucille Clifton poem. And because I’m in Prague, working that city into my pieces too.

Erica read “the mississippi river empties into the gulf” while sitting in her residence hall lobby, waiting for a boy from her Eng 210 class. She wanted him to see her reading poetry and ask. She wanted to look up and sigh, close the book and stand. She wanted to say, “Shall we?” and let him open the door. She read the poem dozens of times, waiting. Finally, she closed the book and texted him: ??? At the exam, he apologized, said have a good time abroad.

Prague wasn’t as cold as Minneapolis in January, but it was darker. She went to class and found a cafe she liked and finally quit thinking about the boy when she met an Australian who made her try Vegemite. By March, Erica decided she couldn’t leave when the term ended. She would stay through summer at least.

The tourists came – packs from Scandinavian and Asian countries – and backpackers, but the Australian left. She got the tattoo in July after stopping along the Vltava River, suddenly reminded of the murk of her own Mississippi. But her river was wider and swifter. Erica thought of the poem and the boy. She thought of the lonely first weeks in Prague, before she met the Australian, and started to cry, staring at the Vltava. She turned away, walking uphill toward her apartment.

The tattoo place had a yellow sign out front and steps that led to a small basement room. Erica was hungry and tired, but knew she had to put the Mississippi on her body, sorry she’d stayed away for as long as she had. But when asked to write the word, she wrote the last two lines of the poem instead, chose ink the color of her freckles and pointed to the inside of her left wrist.

whispering mistakenly:
only here. only now.

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