July 6, 2018

Flash Fiction by Carroll Ann Susco: "A Small, Mean World"

Carroll Ann Susco has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and numerous publications, including Cutbank and three in The Sun Magazine.

A Small, Mean World

I live in a small, mean world where burglars take my socks, and I cannot keep my screen door open in the summer for fear a rapist will scale the balcony and come inside.  Me, here, with old, sagging tits that are still not safe, sitting on the couch in plain view. Them, out there, the small, mean world, even in summer, even in spring. I could say I understand fall and winter, that some people are broken, but I am not up to the task.  Like my skin wearing thin, so has my ability to forgive.
I sit unable to move.  I simply cannot get up and eat or brush my teeth.  I just want life to stop. I just want to smoke and hope one does me in. If only I could convince myself I was going somewhere safe.  That’s the awful thing: to die alive and be buried with my feelings slowly turning to ivory.
How to undo what has been done? “If only I could turn back time…” I hate that song, but I ponder it.  If it could have been different, who would I be? I might still be married or married to another with kids and a dog and a minivan. But I walked away from that.  I ran. I drank. I slept.
I am too old to start over.  Grief. To salvage old age, my only hope is to stop.  Running. From. What was. I make no sense.
If looks could kill, I’d be dead.  And maybe I am. Maybe this is hell or purgatory.   Maybe I’ll go to West Virginia. It’s almost heaven.
I need more coffee.  More cigarettes. But, no, not this time.  I want to feel my anger free, my hatred free.  I won’t be reasonable. I feel dirty, a rag I want to pour kerosene on.  Like the Big Black song. Anger released to heat. I need release.
How does a woman feel powerful?  Lift weights? Carry a gun? Depend on a man who lifts weights and carries a gun?  I want more than one then. I want a million, flanking each side, circled in a perimeter.  Some with controls over nukes. But I don’t get it. So, how do I drift into unconsciousness where alertness is gone?  How do I stop, slow down, empty?
I carve a hollow in a log. I curl, cover and stare with eyes open waiting to be able to close them.  And then I take a chance and fasten my eyes shut. It’s a beginning.
Darkness.  Quiet. Only if I could believe there was no need for the little red shoes to click once, twice, three times.

~Carroll Ann Susco
Carroll Ann Susco, Flash Fiction

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