Jim Hilgartner: Two Flash Fictions

Time Is Running Out

            And once again the water leaves the shore, fading away to the horizon.  The shore extends itself into wet flats, miles of rippled mud draped with long strips of sky.  These turn back to water, gray like the mud but lit from within, when the wind blows in from beyond the distant waves.
———-Small boats settle and sprawl on their sides, abandoned by the water that lent them grace.
———-We sit on the birdlime-spattered rocks, in the gray wind, and watch the water leaving.  We say nothing, each thinking, There it goes.  The water rushes outward, toward the edges of the earth.  The gray sky lowers; sheets of it lie on the mud and turn to water when harried by the wind.
———-Time is running out. We see it, we know it. Give me your hand.

 

Doc Barfield’s Dreams

———-As a younger man, dreaming, Doc Barfield relived incessantly the morning his two boys drowned. He’d smell the bacon and eggs as he stirred them in the skillet, admire the first salmon-colored streaks on the horizon as he walked with the boys to the dock. He’d shake their hands—very manly—and make them promise to wear their life vests. Tell them to bring back a stringer of bream so he could fry them up for lunch. Realize his life was over the moment the sheriff tapped on his door. . . .
———-But in his later dreams, Doc Barfield’s boys remain undrowned. He has lunched with them on the bream they’d have brought back if their canoe hadn’t capsized, attended ball games, graduations. He’s bailed the younger, Toby, out of jail, and discovered with the elder, Frank, that he is gay. The boys he dreams are all grown up now, out living on their own. This is a source of comfort to Doc Barfield, whose cancer is quite advanced, and who can’t say what will happen to his dreams once he is gone.

 

English Professor (Huntingdon College) and Fiction Editor (THAT Literary Review), Jim Hilgartner has published in journals including Apocryphal Text, The Chapbook, Greensboro Review, Mid-American Review, New Orleans Review, Red Mountain Review, SLAB, and Vermont Literary Review, and twice received Fellowships in Literature from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

 

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