I recently learned that the online magazine The Flash Fiction Press is going on hiatus until the end of the summer. This magazine is the home of my first published piece, “From the Water’s Edge,” my first attempt at flash fiction. I thought I’d share that piece with you today.
“From the Water’s Edge” is a story about a moment of vulnerability, a shared experience between two strangers. It reminds me of writing in that these stories writers create are attempts to create connections, to resonate with a reader in a meaningful way. And as I reread this piece this morning, I thought of all the connections that I’ve created with authors, and how there are parts of my personality that resonate most noticeably with other writers. And that’s kind of what life and writing is all about. These sparks, these shared moments, and the understanding that in between these breaths we take there’s a space filled with these significant encounters.
I don’t know the woman sitting across the coffee shop, but I know her sadness. I have never spoken to her, but we discuss her life over sips of latte and stolen glances over paper mugs.
Her smile wraps around me and I feel the warmth of a thousand summer days, but I’m haunted by the faintest downturn at the edges of her lips.
I imagine the brilliance of her ocean blue eyes in her youth. Even now, they sparkle, but I want to weep because beyond their brilliance there’s loss.
My heart feels weighted as she flips the page of the book in front of her, and I see her weathered hands dab at the corners of her eyes.
I turn the page of my notebook, pretending not to notice.
When I look up again, she’s staring at me. She winks, and I’m washed away in a tidal wave.
I wonder if she’s heard my whispered sorrow as we’ve carried on our silent conversation.
I feel my face redden at the realization of my exposure. I think she somehow knows how I cry in the shower unheard. Tears over lost loved ones and lost dreams, wash away down the drain where no one will find them.
She knows. She knows me and I don’t even know her name, but somehow she knows me better than anyone.
She mouths, “It’ll be okay.”
Somehow, I believe her. Because, even though the remnants of her grief tug at the corners of her eyes and her mouth, her eyes still sparkle, and I believe.