Flash Fiction: The List

sunflowerI remember sunflowers. The waxy smell of their unformed seeds. The mulchy smell of fall; the dust of ended leaves rising in balletic clouds around clumsy feet. The taste of salted butter on oven-warm banana bread. The misery of ambulances blaring past my window at midnight. I remember green pistachio ice cream. Saying hello to my neighbors in the morning. Rain on pavement, washing away the debris of bitter morning commutes. The ache in my stomach when I fought with you. The twist of my heart, the gentle relief of oxytocin flushing the anger away when the fight was ended on good terms.

I made a list, in the aftermath. A breath of warning in the air, prickling my neck, told me it was important, unease and dread coiled into a tight spring that propelled my words to the page. I wrote a list. Here are the things I must remember. The things I’m sure I’ll miss. Once the aftermath has become simply math and we calculate every day with alarming and fearful mundanity. Here are the things I love and know for certain I take for granted. Here are the things I look forward to each day and will surely mourn when they’re gone.

I lost the list a long time ago, though I memorized most of it. You won’t remember, because you’ve been gone since. But I’ve found that I was wrong about most things I felt it necessary to write down. I don’t miss pistachio ice cream, or banana bread. I don’t miss mulch or ambulances. I miss my tooth brush. I miss pouring a cup of coffee in the morning, steam misting and curling from the placid, dark surface. I miss the smell of my daily routine. The quirk of your mouth whenever I said something you found funny but also asinine and didn’t want to give me the satisfaction of laughing. I miss the flesh on my hips, the same flesh I disparaged in the mirror each morning. The same flesh I ran countless hours each week to be rid of. I miss being muscle and gristle and bone, a body that curved around another, skin against skin and fat and elbows and crooked knees, an extension of another person. That flesh a comfort against winter and hard surfaces.

Now my hip bones dig trenches in the cement floor, and I am no longer an extension of flesh, of muscle, of elbows, of you. I’m barely even myself, barely even flesh at all, and I haven’t smelled coffee in years.

One Response to “Flash Fiction: The List”
  1. Dave says:

    What a welcome sight it was to see your blog show up in my inbox, Hannah 🙂 I always love your flash fiction and all the wonderful imagery each of them evokes, this one surrounding me not only with things to see, but also to taste, touch, and smell. Beautiful, and I loved it. Hope I get to read some longer fiction someday.

    Merry Christmas, Hannah … hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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