Time-Eaters

I don’t have no problem.”

Sure seem like you do.”

He shook his head, a fractional gesture, noticeable only due the couple’s proximity.

Well, I don’t. Was you what started yappin.”

She folded her arms below her breasts, turning slightly away, staring at nothing, muttering, “Fine.”

Yeah. It is. Why you being this way, Lyla? Ain’t never was like this between us before. Now, all a sudden, you’re constantly screwing up your face, hmph-ing all over the place, snapping at me for no good reason, constantly tryin ta start something…”

Ain’t try’n ta start nothing.”

Good, cuz there ain’t nothing to start.”

She made an expression that was midway betix the spitting-upon-of-disgust and the-self-indulgent-sigh-of-petty transgression. Harmon Kessel finished his frozen yogurt, threw it in the parking-lot trash can and turned to his girl with a expression she could not place and then fished out a cigarette and stuck it between his blood-red lips and stood smoking and watching the gulls turn circles in the thermals above the pavement.

It was one big cliché. A stupid and boring one, Harmon thought to himself with mild irritation. This venomous exchange and the countless ones that had gone before it. He was not a intemperate man but his reserve – like as every others – had its limits and in Lyla’s constant scrapping he was finding his. He blew a circle of smoke up and out over the parking lot before the ramshackle plaza, grinning-slight, proud he’d remembered how.

We’ve had this conversation before, Bluebird, and before we had it, we heard it.”

She turned to look at him from the corners of her eyes. He didn’t like that. The way she side-eyed him as if he weren’t worth the fullness of attention, as if he were merely a speck of colorful paint, floating at the terminus of all perception.

What are you on about?”

It’s the same argument I always hear from couples – that everyone hears – whether its from memories of my parents or from the parents of my friends or from my friends, newly-wed, or from some book or movie. I’ve heard it and so have you. I reckon people have been hearing it since they was able to do so. People arguing bout nothing. Eating up time. We’re time eaters. Time eaters what pay no mind to whats on their plate. That’s our problem as a species.”

She cracked an awkward smile, frailer and less broad than it used to be. He dearly missed the way she used to smile, a little slice of moon with the twin suns of her dark coffee eyes shining above it.

Anyone ever tell you that you’re strange?”

Harmon took a drag, considering. Nodded and spoke flatly.

Bout once a week nowadays.”

Can’t say I’m surprised.” She was flipping through her phone now, less than half-listening. Harmon took another drag, his expression falling into a drab blankness. He’d meant the statement as a joke. She used to laugh at that sort of thing, at his dry, off-kilter humor, driven by flat overstatements of the commonplace. Just two years ago she’d have been cackling like a hyena. Now she couldn’t seem to tell when he was being serious or not. Harmon thought maybe in him some fault lay for that; maybe he was too serious, too tense on the thread of life, like as his father had said. He never smiled anymore. It was just his way. One of the gulls swooped down to the parking lot and pecked a greasy hamburger wrapper that some litterbug had left behind. Prodding with its bladish beak til it found a fry. As Harmon watch it abscond with its prize and flutter up into the shine he wondered why he couldn’t feel sadness. Given the situation, it seemed appropriate; like as it would be the normal response. For all Lyla’s accusations of peculiarity, Harmon had always considered himself a relatively normal person. Average in most ways. Average height, average looks, or maybe, a little above average looks, average job ghostwriting with under average pay, average build, maybe leaner than most. Lean but muscular. It was only when it came to his mind that any peculiarities began to manifest themselves, odd turns of phrase and archaic words which pleased his ear and so oft poured from his lips; ruminations on the state of things that seemed beyond all ken, save his own. His grandfather had once said that Harmon spoke like a man that were unweaving a secret loom which only he could see. The random girls at the bar thought it was “sophisticated,” their boyfriends “pretentious,” Harmon’s amiable acquaintances just said he “talked funny.” He took a long drag of the fervid Fortuna and thought on the phrase “amiable acquaintances.” Most of what he had that were social were such. He reckoned he didn’t have any friends. Not anymore. None save Lyla. Only she was different. Friend and lover. Sweetheart since high-school. A bond worked for nearly 12 years. Most of the others he’d withdrawn from. He liked his solitude and hated hypocrites. Despite the shelling, his snail-like ways had never caused him any trouble, like some he’d knew who’d moan about being misunderstood. Most people weren’t hard to understand and if one found oneself alone it was only for two reasons: because one were worse than all or because one were better and didn’t seek to lead. Harmon knew he weren’t the latter as social self-ostracization were merely the plaything of the moment for him, no different than changing a tire or scaling a blue gill. Just another thing to do. But he wasn’t too sure about the former.

He looked away from the gull. Back to his girl.

She was still on her phone, drifting towards the passenger-side door.

I’ve gotta meet, Serena.”

Right, right. Art show.”

Harmon finished off his cigarette, dropped it to the blacktop and crushed it out beneath his heel with a faded serpentine hissing and then got in after the girl and drove out of the frozen yogurt shop where they’d shared their second kiss, the gravel sputtering beneath the ceaseless, half-deflated wheels of the battered 1990 Ford Escort Hatchback.

He looked over at her and smiled.

I had a good time with you. Been too long, Bluebird.”

Yeah.” She replied without excitement, gaze still fixed to her phone, as if afraid to look up. He guessed she was still talking to Serena or one of her other art school friends he’d never met.

His smile faded and he drove the rest of the journey in silence, smoking and tapping the ash out the crack of the window and watching it sputter in butterfly whorls into the oblivion-warp beyond the ambit of the roiling machine.

Fiction Circular 9/14/18

For writing circular recommendations, drop us a line at: logosliterature@yandex.com.

Editor’s note: Flash/microfiction length pieces which forms part of a continuous series that goes beyond the length of a flash fiction will be included either under the SHORT STORIES or NOVELLAS & NOVELS sections, depending on the length of the series in totality; they will not be included in the flash section from here on out given that they are only a portion of the whole story and not a true flash/microfiction unto themselves.


FLASH FICTION

Richa Sharma of iScriblr published the appropriately scribbly short fiction fragments, Fahrenheit 451 and Million Dollar Baby as part of a literary challenge to create a story in only three lines. In my opinion, she did a sterling job of it. If you’re a new fiction writer looking for practice, look up her form and try your hand.

“We’ve got 24 hours before they burn them all down! Hurry up!”

The literary journal, Gone Lawn published Empire of Light by the talented and charming Melissa Goode. The short piece is brisk and uplifting as her prose.

“We are a blip in time and space, nothing compared with matter and history, but that does not diminish a single thing about us.”

From Ellipsis ZineThe Axolotl by Rebecca Field. A sad but powerful shortform tale which encapsulates the maxim, “you never know what you have til its gone.” In this instance, life.

“I remembered the axolotl. Some creatures aren’t meant to grow up.”

 of Miles Before I Go To Sleep… recently published Finish The Story: The Art Student. As the name implies, Ms. Tantry’s story is as-yet incomplete; the point of the post is to see how other fiction writer’s build off of her existing microfiction. Its a pretty fascinating tale so far (and getting fairly lengthy so I suppose I could have also placed this in ‘short stories’) concerning art and magic, a burned man, Dante’s Inferno and a pact with a ‘crossroads demon.’ Some writers have already made flash contributions, including circular regular, The Dark Netizen. Go check it out and – if you’re a fiction author – consider trying your hand.

The man removed all his clothes. It was clear that the melted skin was pretty much all over and not a hair grew out of it. Standing on the platform his head brushed the ceiling tiles.

Amy couldn’t resist asking him “Your skin, were you born like that or….” She couldn’t finish the question, but he answered anyway, it’s what most people asked him.

“No, I was a firefighter, at 9/11. I was caught in a fireball.” He could say it now, seventeen years later, without breaking down.

Speaking of The Dark Netizen, he’s been busy with some poetry as well as the moody flash fiction tale, Another Dark Day.

“This fog can be wiped off with a quick sweep of my hand. I wish removing the clouds in my life was as easy.”


SHORT STORIES

Avani Singh of Blogggedit, who we covered in our last installment, made good on her promise to deliver consecutive slices of horror literature with the final installments of her memorably titled, ‘Weirdo Elevator’ series. Below we’ve provided the series in its entirety:

WEIRDO ELEVATORPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7 [FIN]

“Only 24 hours of my life were left…”

From Burning House Press, Wisconsin by songstress, Sam Lou Talbot, whose fleeting, fragmented narrative is compelling but a little too scattered. Whilst beautifully written I wonder if it might have worked better as a song with the music filling in the narrative gaps in the story. Also from Burning House, Bomb Nostalgic by Mauricio Figueiras; a tale of Hollywood-backed filming of nuclear bomb tests in the wastelands of Nevada. Smacks of Don Delillo.

“His bronchial and alveolar tubes have been replaced with an expanding nuclear mushroom that eats up the entire thoracic cavity.”

From Terror House Magazine, The Manipulators by Jake Belck whose prose reminds me strongly of a less manic Bret Easton Ellis. A tale with many lessons for those with the eyes to see and the best of the week.

“See ya around,” were the last words to his wife of seven years before Leo cut the call.

From Idle Ink, Selling Caramel Turtles at the Concessions is Only Going to Confuse Visitors as to the Intended Use of the Reptile Ones in the Tanks by David S. Atkinson. Which is, as far as I can remember, the single longest title I have ever seen for a short story in my entire life (not that I’m complaining, mind you).

“This is the inner workings side of the zoo. We’re on our way to see the Elephant Lord.”


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

Seen a promo for a teen urban-fantasy romance novel titled, Imminence: Book 2, by Kat Stiles. Now, I’m not knocking the content of the book, I haven’t read it – seems to be quite good if the plethora of 5 star reviews are anything to go by – but the cover gave me a hearty laugh.

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Vampiric NSYNC member Sam Harris stalks pre-sellout Jennifer Lawrence in this riveting tale of romance and revenge.


LITERARY EPHEMERA

Neha Sharma of Literary Lemonades published, The Damsel In Distress, an apt criticism of the eponymous trope. It bares noting, however, that though her criticism is spot-on, the trend in fiction, literature, film and TV seems to be consistently away from the-damsel-in-distress and more towards The Mary Sue (any female lead who is good at everything to an absurdist degree and typically displays masculine traits). Ms. Sharma delineates the trope and breaks it down further into three sub-categories.

  • Bushy-haired, bespectacled (optional) shy girl who prefers books over male attention, only to transform later into a gorgeous diva for the hero, who understandably becomes the first ever man in her life.

  • A smokin’ hot girl from an academic background. She is unaware of her good looks and would finally make the hero fall in ‘true love’ for the first time.

  • An introvert girl who has clearly suffered some trauma in the past and she cannot trust anyone anymore. She finally meets our jolly-good hero who saves the day.

My summation is that both the mary-sue and damsel-in-distress tropes (when used a a focal point for a character) are around equally efficient at generating unbelievable and fairly boring fictional persons. Now, as ever, 3D characters are key.

STORGY landed an interview with James Frey (who wrote I Am Number Four with Jobie Hughes under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore) that delved into bibliophilia, literary criticism, bad press coverage and what is most important to a fiction author.

Q: “Do you think that honestly, that you sold out at some point?”

FREY: “I don’t know right? I actually had a tonne of fun doing Pittacus Lore and doing End Game. In some ways I don’t think it’s a sell out because it’s the least likely thing anyone ever expected me to do-“

Lastly, gnOme published the aesthetically engorged NEMO by X. Looks promising.


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