The old man sat down, middle of the bridge and watched his home and village burn. The others called to him but he would not hear. Some soldiers retrieved him and placed him down on the other side of the river. He lit a cigarette, drew smoke, and tears fell.
Youth has a way of slipping away from a man. Some don't take advantage of it while others abuse it. Ideally, one would walk the middle road but men are prone to extremes, one way or the other. The sun always sets just are surely as the sun also rises.
*The above is another excerpt from my forthcoming collection of Heming Ways (hopefully, to be published by August 13, 2021). Heming Ways is a work of 50, 50-word microfictions in homage to Ernest Hemingway, told in his style of prose with reference to his life and works.
"Did you start that medicine?"
"The one I told you about last time?"
"Last time what?"
"The last time we were here."
"In the bathroom?"
"No, not in the bathroom. In this restaurant."
"Well, did you try it?"
"Yeah, worked pretty good too."
"You bet it works good!"
"Wait 'til you are ninety, like me. Then you can take two. Woohoo! Let me tell you!"
"Oh, yeah. You're still young and only need the one though. What are you now?"
"Yeah, don't overdo it."
Drying their hands, the men finished their conversation. Opening the solid, oak door of the gentlemen's room, they exited, walking out past a large aquarium, down the ramp toward the front doors. En route, they passed an attractive, younger lady and one couldn't resist, "Woohoo honey! I like your dress...it's the color of my medicine!"
Once back to my table, I noticed that the dress did look quite nice on my wife. "Woohoo honey! I like your dress!"
Stay tuned for my forthcoming collection, Heming Ways. Heming Ways is an anthology of 50, 50-word "micro" stories and an homage to Ernest Hemingway.
Below is an excerpt -
Lawrence heard the rustling in the bush long before he saw movement. Gradually, a grey shape emerged and he raised the Winchester eye and sight and beast in line. He prepared to fire but could not hold his aim, formerly sure hands today unsteady. Abstinence would cost him the kill.
I tossed and turned throughout the night, unable to sleep. There was a long day ahead, but I would get all of the sleep that I needed soon enough, unable to resist sleep when the night comes. One misses so much while the eyes are open as it is. There is no one who, truly, fears not the stage. Whether fear or excitement, no matter. The effect is the same.
The sun would be up in a moment and spill the soft rays of Nature's stage lights into my room, but I would rise before it today and begin my rehearsal in the darkness. Fitting! My best work now long for the shadows, as it were.
I arose. I stretched. I washed. I arrived at the theatre. Dressed in my finest attire, the costume carefully chosen and laid out for me by a loving hand, with face tastefully decorated just so as to catch the light perfectly, capturing and preserving my every expression—a face known for its gesticulations.
Today promised to be a very special day. The final act. The final performance. There would be no more encores. All shows, even the great ones, draw to a close. Knowing this made it nonetheless sour. The show had run its course and it is always better to go out on top, as they say in the business, than to overstay one's welcome. That I should go out with such a "Bang!" I would leave the stage with the same reverence with which I approached it, exiting stage right, no need of the old Vaudevillian hook to make the modest thespian of me.
The stage is an altar, a place of belief and ritual and magic…movement and doing. There is celebration and there is worship. There is the cult, the performer a priest, the faithful congregation. There is love and there is sorrow, both real and imagined, but there is emotion, always the emotion...rising and crashing simultaneously upon both performer and audience in often unexpected waves. No performance ever the same nor its effects upon the souls of officiant and parishioner alike.
One is fortunate to have lived as she would have chosen not otherwise to do. The summation of my career--my life—predicated upon sharing with others the experience of the entirety of the catalog of human emotion, from the depths of low to the peaks of high. Such a life one dare not dream of exchanging for the nightmare of not living life such as it is. Praise...critique...no matter, the show must go on, life must go on. This is the human condition.
"Showtime!" I am informed. The butterflies launch from their perch in unison to begin their wild and aerialbatic dance. I feel them as always, perhaps more so now in this final moment of glory. I could never tame the wild little things. Peeking out from behind the curtain, a full house! I smile...no I laugh from the sheer rush of joy! Each and every soul here for me! Eyes upon me, the star of the show. I never dreamt that I might touch so many souls. I have been blessed, truly I have. And here they were now, waiting for me, and I knew that they loved me for I could feel the love burning in my heart as I drew nearer them and they to me. I, in turn, loved them with a fierce reciprocity. I was who and what I was for them and because of them.
Curtain about to open...the butterflies now as though sparrows... I would miss the stage. I would miss my role. I would miss my fellow cast. I would miss my beloved audience. But I would savor every morsel of these, the final moments, of this encore presentation. I would give my very best!
As Time is so prone to do when one is caught up in rapture—living in that singular moment where one feels amidst the sinews the truth that there is indeed neither past nor future—it passed, the show was over, and the curtain closed. But tonight, there would be no curtain call. No last exchange with the audience, no final bow. It was all over. Now I would have that long overdue sleep…the peaceful rest.
As I closed my eyes for the final time that night, my last memory is of the taste of saline upon my lips from the lone teardrop that had fallen as I listened to the minister read my eulogy. It was such a beautiful monologue. And then I slept through the night.
This story first appeared in Raven Cage Zine, Issue 57 (May 28, 2021).
Yesterday, I was notified by the editor of Black Poppy Review that my most recent fiction piece, "The Ride," was accepted and published (read here). This was my first attempt at flash fiction (short stories under 1000 words). The goal of flash fiction is to present a big idea as simply, concisely, and truthfully as one can and this with the color of good prose. Flash fiction situates itself carefully upon the border of short fiction and poetry. I enjoyed the constraint of a limited word count as such forces the writer to focus on terse prose without losing the color and I, perhaps, paid even more attention to turns of phrase than I might have otherwise in longer form (though I can't be certain of this).
As I shared the draft prepublication, and others having since read the piece, readers have asked, "It is about death, isn't it?" or "Suicide?" To wit my reply is always that my job as a writer is done, the rest is up to the reader. All writers know that some meanings and themes emerge after piece's completion and were not necessarily in the mind of the writer during the process of creation. That would be way too convenient. Yet such reader-derived meanings and themes are equally valid. That is one of the joys of literature, is it not?
It is interesting to hear what others experience and see in the mind's eye upon reading one's work. Truly, "The Ride" should be read as a dark piece and that was my intent, after all, but who's to say that it might not also be interpreted (validly) by another reader in a more positive and optimistic light--say, as a treatise on how we tend to focus on the past and future so much that we miss out on the present moment? Something to remind us to LIVE NOW as now is all we've got...to motivate...not depress.
I won't say much more about the piece but I will part with this--There really isn't a middle story for our passenger and narrator and that much, dear reader, I can say was intentional. It is for you to write in your own mind, feel it as truth, and to live it out.
- S. Huey