Archive for the ‘!What’s New!’ Category

Brief Traffic Update

Monday, December 21st, 2020

Two thirds through the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest,
we have received: 2,477 views from 1,011 IPs

Scroll down to finish Nickolas Urpí’s “Maple Leaf Souls”.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Maple Leaf Souls

Monday, December 21st, 2020

by Nickolas Urpí

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning.


When the Whiskey is Finished

He would do it as soon as the whiskey was finished, he thought to himself. Each swig further fueled his angry; he could feel it. He was boiling.

Jake Barnes was sitting in his truck, his body still warm in his winter overcoat. He was parked in the middle of his, his, maple syrup farm. The rows of maple trees extended on forever, with the leaves covering a spacious amount of ground like a carpet of orange, some crystal snow having dropped here and there between the leaves.

It was his farm. He had bought it. He had bought it from right under Brett’s nose. Brett was a terrible businessman and an even worse syrup maker. Jake had understood the business from day one, and if Brett wasn’t Geoffry’s son, the old man would have left it to Jake. He knew it. He worked longer hours and, better yet, had ideas. Understood the business. Brett inherited, however, on nothing but blood.

A maple leaf fell onto the hood of his car.

Jake was patient, though, and worked and saved and sweat, waiting until Brett couldn’t handle the pressure of business and his own ineptitude, and then bought it from him in a deal with Janice Diehl’s backing. And even after Brett was nothing, Ashley still stayed with him.

That made him sick.

“You don’t have to be with him anymore, Ash,” Jake said to her as Brett stormed off into town, leaving behind a legacy that was once his. “Come be with me.”

“What are you talking about? Are you crazy?” Ashley screamed back at him. “I love him, Jake. He’s my husband.”

“I love you more than he does or can. He doesn’t care about you; he’s never cared about anything. The farm is mine now, I know how much you’ve loved it. You always have. It was just a high school crush, it meant something then, but this means more now,” he said pointing to himself.

She shook her head in disgust and followed Brett into town.

“Ashley!” he screamed after her.

He waited for her. He waited every day, while working and slaving and building the business into a profit-making machine. His was the best maple syrup in Vermont and almost sold half of his makings to restaurants, he was in such demand. They were fine dining restaurants too, the kind that might one day boast a Michelin star.

But Ashley still did not come. He hadn’t pleaded with her since. She needed to be reminded perhaps, that there was no shame in choosing him over Brett, in making the right choice.

Another leaf fell.

He saw his opportunity one day as she was exiting of the grocery store, her cart filled with discount items.

“Ash, it’s me,” Jake said.

Despite having imagined a thousand times in his head what he’d say given the opportunity, his tongue stuck to his cheeks. She made him feel like a child, warm and sweet, and utterly ridiculous.

She said nothing but tried to walk around him.

“Ash, please,” he said grabbing her arm. It was then that the button on her overcoat popped and he saw a distinctive shape, he had not thought he’d see one her. He released her in shock, as though she was diseased. “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes, why shouldn’t I be? Everyone knows.”

“With his?”

Ashley turned red, miraculously damming up her fury.

“Yes! His! Brett’s! I love him! Leave me alone, Jake. I don’t need or want any more of your bullshit. Quit acting like an asshole all the time. I don’t love you.”

“But he’s nothing. No job, no ambition. You’re working now and pregnant? I can offer you everything. I truly love you. I’m not using you.”

“I love him, not you. Leave me alone,” she said, before storming off into the parking lot.

Another leaf fell.

For the next few months, Jake did nothing but recede into his past and analyze every action he did or did not take, especially around Ashley.

Why it was that Ashley could not accept his love but would accept Brett’s? In every measurable aspect of success, he surpassed Brett. Brett’s extroversion had won the hearts of teacher and student alike in high school, but that had changed with his successive failures. He was depressed and never left his couch.

Jake had sacrificed everything to make sure the farm that Ash had always professed wanting to spend her life living on and raising her children on, thrived. He was a success, a exemplary human being.

Another leaf fell.

He sat there in his car, the news that she had given birth to twins and was happy as a lark burning him inside and out. Brett was there in the delivery room, holding her hand, the only time he had ever been of use to her.

He wanted to talk to someone, someone like Geoffry, who knew things. He couldn’t talk to Ernest or William, they were old and wise but worked for him. He hadn’t a soul in the world to confide in and had been on his own since he was sixteen. So he festered.

He would put a stop to it. That’s what he would do.

He had to. That was what he was going to do as soon as the whiskey was finished. He would fight Brett and win Ashley back. That’s what she wanted. As soon as the whiskey was finished, he would do it. He imagined it, the moment when she threw aside her life with Brett and join him, with her children, embracing a better life that he had prepared for them.

Another leaf fell.

His whole car was covered in maple leaves and he could no longer see through the windshield. The whiskey was finished but he did not move. He was thankful that no one could see him crying alone with an empty jar of spirits in his hand.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Maple Leaf Souls

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

by Nickolas Urpí

This is part two. Read the suite from the beginning


Momiji

Aimi’s crankiness after returning from the market had increased every day for several years without fail. Minoh Falls was infested with tourists, the clicking of the cameras completely overpowering the dreamlike sizzling that accompanied the maple leaves into the fryer. She pretended the clicking cameras were crickets that were too loud for autumn. The tourists didn’t understand the time and preparation it required to collect the precious yellow leaves from the maple trees, salt them in water for a year, dry them, and then fry them up in sweet sesame tempura batter. She scowled at their ignorance.

The “crickets” weren’t there when she and her sons (son?), Hibiki and—

Aimi paused to rest on a rock, her parka tighter around her waist than in previous years. What was her other son’s name? Dear Husband would have known, but she forgot his name too. He had died long ago and would have been there, unlike Hibiki, who abandoned her.

“I work here now,” he had said, his voice as distant as his face. “I told you to come. I found you a place not too far from where we are. It’s lovely here.”

Iceland sounded too cold to be lovely.

“What will I do there? Fry maple leaves? Leave Osaka? No, I can’t. My friends are here. Your father is here.”

“Dad’s gone,” he said.

“He’s still here,” she spat.

She had not spoken to Hibiki since. She could not count the number of leaves she’d fried since then. He was different as a child. He never left her side, always helping, picking leaves, helping her with every step. She saw him grow up before her beneath the waters of Minoh Falls, sprinkling sesame seeds into the batter. She hadn’t tasted one since he left. She could not convince herself that they would be as sweet.

He had a point, she thought to herself. She was letting every thought, every memory slip away with each battered leaf and sold them at the markets. She had become cantankerous, worried, and so very tired. Passing by the entrance to the house, a face looked back at her from the mirror. It had age spots, and wrinkles drawn in like a child drawing lines in the sand with a stick. She didn’t recognize what stared back at her. She didn’t recognize the frown that permanently clung to her cheeks.

She sat down and waited for the soup on the stove to be ready. She wondered if she should read some haiku, a novel, a newspaper even? The ability to determine the time or her age was gradually slipping away. The sun was always white and yellow now and looked to be setting and rising at the same time.

“You are losing your grip,” Yoko would say, sitting one booth over from her.

“I’m as sharp as ever!” Aimi retorted, stretching out her arthritic hands before preparing another batch of leaves.

Yoko only laughed. “Are you going to tell me about your daughters again? And how you are only going to pass off your secret recipe for the leaves to them?”

“Everyone knows the recipe for the leaves,” Aimi replied. “And I will tell my sons some day!”

“You never tell anyone. You never will. You bury it in your chest, if you even remember it.”

“Of course, I remember it,” Aimi replied. “You mind your own business! Here come those damned tourists. Stop bothering me, I don’t have times to swat at both you and them!”

Yoko laughed, shaking her head. Aimi hated to feel the condescension of others and so she did her best to pretend Yoko did not exist.

Sons… is there another?

She tried to think of her other son, but she could not remember anyone except Hibiki. She already lost the name of his children, wife, and where he lived. She only remembered it sounded cold. Or did he sound cold?

Even that was a mystery.

Aimi wondered what there was to do, and realized, with the sun almost up that she had to go and make the maple leaves in the market. She noticed the temperature dropping as she descended that long staircase that led up to the house. It was almost as frigid as night. Mornings were so strange in autumn, with the light purple against the clouds.

She wondered if she was being too harsh telling Hibiki “no” so suddenly. Her dear husband was a good man who always said things always end up the way we don’t expect and not to fight it too hard. He certainly did not expect to die of cancer.

“My poor husband,” Aimi thought to herself. She thought it terrible to be alone. Yoko was more pest than friend and Hibiki, despite abandoning her, was still her son.

“Perhaps, it will not be so bad in the cold,” she said to herself.

It was dark when she reached the market. No one was stirring. She looked up at the line of trees, realizing that night had come and that she, absentmindedly, had confused evening for morning. Panicking, she whirled about, looking for the way back home, but it was all a blur.

She fell to the ground, losing her footing on a loose stone. She began to pant as she crashed into the hard ground, unable to stand. Her packages of maple leaves were all around her. She had even fallen on one and crushed it.

Aimi’s eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know where I am, what I’m doing here. I shouldn’t be here. Something is wrong. I don’t remember what I was thinking.”

She lifted a bag of maple of leaves, all her pain falling away in that moment.

“So pretty,” she smiled to herself. She opened the bag, removed one and crunched down. “How sweet!”

There was no yesterday or tomorrow. That crisp maple leaf was so delicious, alone in that moment. There was nothing else but sweetness.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Maple Leaf Souls

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

by Nickolas Urpí


November Gold

The click of a shotgun alerted me to Ryder’s presence. My hands instinctively shot up and I shut my eyes. My asthma returned, as it always did when I was tense or excited.

“Turn around,” he growled. I obeyed, the light reflecting off the golden maple tree, illuminating the both of us. “Shit! It’s you!”

He was visibly sour at my presence. It was cold, even for November, and I trembled as I feared his anger.

I was working late on a pair of wedding bands when Ryder entered the shop, wearing a battered olive jacket. Had it not been for the glassy white stubble, I would have taken him for middle aged, even considering the turkey’s foot at the edges of his eyes.

He strode in and offered to sell me a golden maple leaf that he had casually removed from his pocket. Skeptical, I had believed it, at first, to be a tin leaf that had been covered with gold paint and had likely fallen from a clock. After careful examination, I found it not only to be genuine gold, but gold of the highest quality. I could find no flaws in it and asked him its origins and purpose. He could not enlighten me in the slightest on either account.

I returned it to him, my business mind knowing I could not sell it, and yet, I found it difficult to relinquish. After he left, I spent the whole night reminiscing on it. It had such perfection, as though it was plucked from nature itself, summoning memories of lost hours spent beneath a maple tree dreaming of making love to a girl I was too shy to ever ask out.

The next morning, I realized the craftsmanship was too perfect for me not to purchase. I could not bear the thought of some other jeweler possessing it. It was the only truly beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. So many times, I was called upon to fix or repair objects of great wealth passed down from generations, only to find an infinite number more of flaws I had to keep to myself. But that leaf, that leaf was truly perfect.

I drove over to Ryder’s property that morning. It was deep in the forest outside of town. A wood house that was covered in grime and dead foliage waited for me as I tread beyond the barbed wire gate and fence that warned off visitors. There was no smoke rising from the chimney, so I decided to leave, until a gleam out of the corner of my eye summoned me to around the backside of the house.

I could see a picket fence around a carefully preserved gravestone, but there was a shimmering light beyond that that beckoned me forward.

I stepped carefully, as though I were a thief until I came upon a tree, golden and shining despite the grey-veiled sun. The leaves on this maple were not like the other crimson leaves of November days, but a true reflection of metal. I picked up a leaf from the ground, as perfect and beautiful as the one I had examined in my shop.

I realized then that Ryder possessed a miracle.

That was when he came upon me.

“You don’t have to shoot me,” I quivered. “I won’t tell anyone. I just happened to see. I apologize.”

“I’m not going to shoot you. Shut up and come on inside,” he said, lowering his gun and turning to enter his house as though it were obvious I would follow him. I did.

He offered me whiskey, which I declined. The musty interior further aggravated my asthma. The house was sparce on functional furniture and cleanliness but plentiful in photographs, which were spotlessly clean.

He had, in particular, a number of photographs with the photo of a woman with a toothy smile and narrow eyes. She was not particularly attractive but had an endearing quality to her face.

We discussed the purchase of the single leaf, the funds for which Ryder needed to complete the last payment on his house. When our business was done, he looked at me as though I was expected to leave, but I could not.

“Why?” I asked. “Why not just sell them all and live a life of luxury? Why just one leaf?”

He looked at me confusedly. “Why the hell would I do that?”

I did not know how to answer him.

“I don’t need money. Can money bring her back?” he nodded towards the photos on the wall.

“Your wife?”

“Lynn,” he nodded. “What good is money? I don’t need money.”

“But think of all the things you could do,” I said. “You don’t need to stay here and suffer.”

“Haven’t you ever loved someone? Loved someone really? And lost them?”

I replied I had not. I felt a sense of shame, as though I were a child was just waking to the fact that I had not learned anything at all in my whole life.

“Listen Mister Falks,” Ryder said, downing the last of his whiskey. “All the gold in the world can do nothing for me. I’d rather have that tree filled with memories of her, so that I can just pick one up and look into it and see her dancing and smiling and laughing. God, that woman loved to dance. Even when she was sick, she’d move her arms. Hell, she’d just dance with her eyes if she had nothing else. You don’t know the half of living if you don’t know loving.”

I sat in my living room that night like a child, with my lights up, staring at every bare corner of the room. I looked from one end to the other, the sole maple leaf I had purchased in my hand, consumed with the realization that I was alone and surrounded by emptiness rather than smiles.

Momiji

Aimi’s crankiness after returning from the market had increased every day for several years without fail. Minoh Falls was infested with tourists, the clicking of the cameras completely overpowering the dreamlike sizzling that accompanied the maple leaves into the fryer. She pretended the clicking cameras were crickets that were too loud for autumn. The tourists didn’t understand the time and preparation it required to collect the precious yellow leaves from the maple trees, salt them in water for a year, dry them, and then fry them up in sweet sesame tempura batter. She scowled at their ignorance.

The “crickets” weren’t there when she and her sons (son?), Hibiki and—

Aimi paused to rest on a rock, her parka tighter around her waist than in previous years. What was her other son’s name? Dear Husband would have known, but she forgot his name too. He had died long ago and would have been there, unlike Hibiki, who abandoned her.

“I work here now,” he had said, his voice as distant as his face. “I told you to come. I found you a place not too far from where we are. It’s lovely here.”

Iceland sounded too cold to be lovely.

“What will I do there? Fry maple leaves? Leave Osaka? No, I can’t. My friends are here. Your father is here.”

“Dad’s gone,” he said.

“He’s still here,” she spat.

She had not spoken to Hibiki since. She could not count the number of leaves she’d fried since then. He was different as a child. He never left her side, always helping, picking leaves, helping her with every step. She saw him grow up before her beneath the waters of Minoh Falls, sprinkling sesame seeds into the batter. She hadn’t tasted one since he left. She could not convince herself that they would be as sweet.

He had a point, she thought to herself. She was letting every thought, every memory slip away with each battered leaf and sold them at the markets. She had become cantankerous, worried, and so very tired. Passing by the entrance to the house, a face looked back at her from the mirror. It had age spots, and wrinkles drawn in like a child drawing lines in the sand with a stick. She didn’t recognize what stared back at her. She didn’t recognize the frown that permanently clung to her cheeks.

She sat down and waited for the soup on the stove to be ready. She wondered if she should read some haiku, a novel, a newspaper even? The ability to determine the time or her age was gradually slipping away. The sun was always white and yellow now and looked to be setting and rising at the same time.

“You are losing your grip,” Yoko would say, sitting one booth over from her.

“I’m as sharp as ever!” Aimi retorted, stretching out her arthritic hands before preparing another batch of leaves.

Yoko only laughed. “Are you going to tell me about your daughters again? And how you are only going to pass off your secret recipe for the leaves to them?”

“Everyone knows the recipe for the leaves,” Aimi replied. “And I will tell my sons some day!”

“You never tell anyone. You never will. You bury it in your chest, if you even remember it.”

“Of course, I remember it,” Aimi replied. “You mind your own business! Here come those damned tourists. Stop bothering me, I don’t have times to swat at both you and them!”

Yoko laughed, shaking her head. Aimi hated to feel the condescension of others and so she did her best to pretend Yoko did not exist.

Sons… is there another?

She tried to think of her other son, but she could not remember anyone except Hibiki. She already lost the name of his children, wife, and where he lived. She only remembered it sounded cold. Or did he sound cold?

Even that was a mystery.

Aimi wondered what there was to do, and realized, with the sun almost up that she had to go and make the maple leaves in the market. She noticed the temperature dropping as she descended that long staircase that led up to the house. It was almost as frigid as night. Mornings were so strange in autumn, with the light purple against the clouds.

She wondered if she was being too harsh telling Hibiki “no” so suddenly. Her dear husband was a good man who always said things always end up the way we don’t expect and not to fight it too hard. He certainly did not expect to die of cancer.

“My poor husband,” Aimi thought to herself. She thought it terrible to be alone. Yoko was more pest than friend and Hibiki, despite abandoning her, was still her son.

“Perhaps, it will not be so bad in the cold,” she said to herself.

It was dark when she reached the market. No one was stirring. She looked up at the line of trees, realizing that night had come and that she, absentmindedly, had confused evening for morning. Panicking, she whirled about, looking for the way back home, but it was all a blur.

She fell to the ground, losing her footing on a loose stone. She began to pant as she crashed into the hard ground, unable to stand. Her packages of maple leaves were all around her. She had even fallen on one and crushed it.

Aimi’s eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know where I am, what I’m doing here. I shouldn’t be here. Something is wrong. I don’t remember what I was thinking.”

She lifted a bag of maple of leaves, all her pain falling away in that moment.

“So pretty,” she smiled to herself. She opened the bag, removed one and crunched down. “How sweet!”

There was no yesterday or tomorrow. That crisp maple leaf was so delicious, alone in that moment. There was nothing else but sweetness.

When the Whiskey is Finished

He would do it as soon as the whiskey was finished, he thought to himself. Each swig further fueled his angry; he could feel it. He was boiling.

Jake Barnes was sitting in his truck, his body still warm in his winter overcoat. He was parked in the middle of his, his, maple syrup farm. The rows of maple trees extended on forever, with the leaves covering a spacious amount of ground like a carpet of orange, some crystal snow having dropped here and there between the leaves.

It was his farm. He had bought it. He had bought it from right under Brett’s nose. Brett was a terrible businessman and an even worse syrup maker. Jake had understood the business from day one, and if Brett wasn’t Geoffry’s son, the old man would have left it to Jake. He knew it. He worked longer hours and, better yet, had ideas. Understood the business. Brett inherited, however, on nothing but blood.

A maple leaf fell onto the hood of his car.

Jake was patient, though, and worked and saved and sweat, waiting until Brett couldn’t handle the pressure of business and his own ineptitude, and then bought it from him in a deal with Janice Diehl’s backing. And even after Brett was nothing, Ashley still stayed with him.

That made him sick.

“You don’t have to be with him anymore, Ash,” Jake said to her as Brett stormed off into town, leaving behind a legacy that was once his. “Come be with me.”

“What are you talking about? Are you crazy?” Ashley screamed back at him. “I love him, Jake. He’s my husband.”

“I love you more than he does or can. He doesn’t care about you; he’s never cared about anything. The farm is mine now, I know how much you’ve loved it. You always have. It was just a high school crush, it meant something then, but this means more now,” he said pointing to himself.

She shook her head in disgust and followed Brett into town.

“Ashley!” he screamed after her.

He waited for her. He waited every day, while working and slaving and building the business into a profit-making machine. His was the best maple syrup in Vermont and almost sold half of his makings to restaurants, he was in such demand. They were fine dining restaurants too, the kind that might one day boast a Michelin star.

But Ashley still did not come. He hadn’t pleaded with her since. She needed to be reminded perhaps, that there was no shame in choosing him over Brett, in making the right choice.

Another leaf fell.

He saw his opportunity one day as she was exiting of the grocery store, her cart filled with discount items.

“Ash, it’s me,” Jake said.

Despite having imagined a thousand times in his head what he’d say given the opportunity, his tongue stuck to his cheeks. She made him feel like a child, warm and sweet, and utterly ridiculous.

She said nothing but tried to walk around him.

“Ash, please,” he said grabbing her arm. It was then that the button on her overcoat popped and he saw a distinctive shape, he had not thought he’d see one her. He released her in shock, as though she was diseased. “You’re pregnant?”

“Yes, why shouldn’t I be? Everyone knows.”

“With his?”

Ashley turned red, miraculously damming up her fury.

“Yes! His! Brett’s! I love him! Leave me alone, Jake. I don’t need or want any more of your bullshit. Quit acting like an asshole all the time. I don’t love you.”

“But he’s nothing. No job, no ambition. You’re working now and pregnant? I can offer you everything. I truly love you. I’m not using you.”

“I love him, not you. Leave me alone,” she said, before storming off into the parking lot.

Another leaf fell.

For the next few months, Jake did nothing but recede into his past and analyze every action he did or did not take, especially around Ashley.

Why it was that Ashley could not accept his love but would accept Brett’s? In every measurable aspect of success, he surpassed Brett. Brett’s extroversion had won the hearts of teacher and student alike in high school, but that had changed with his successive failures. He was depressed and never left his couch.

Jake had sacrificed everything to make sure the farm that Ash had always professed wanting to spend her life living on and raising her children on, thrived. He was a success, a exemplary human being.

Another leaf fell.

He sat there in his car, the news that she had given birth to twins and was happy as a lark burning him inside and out. Brett was there in the delivery room, holding her hand, the only time he had ever been of use to her.

He wanted to talk to someone, someone like Geoffry, who knew things. He couldn’t talk to Ernest or William, they were old and wise but worked for him. He hadn’t a soul in the world to confide in and had been on his own since he was sixteen. So he festered.

He would put a stop to it. That’s what he would do.

He had to. That was what he was going to do as soon as the whiskey was finished. He would fight Brett and win Ashley back. That’s what she wanted. As soon as the whiskey was finished, he would do it. He imagined it, the moment when she threw aside her life with Brett and join him, with her children, embracing a better life that he had prepared for them.

Another leaf fell.

His whole car was covered in maple leaves and he could no longer see through the windshield. The whiskey was finished but he did not move. He was thankful that no one could see him crying alone with an empty jar of spirits in his hand.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

When a Maenad…

Friday, December 18th, 2020

by Allison Floyd

This is part five. Read the suite from the beginning.


When a Maenad Goes Out at Night 

She runs through the forest, gaining momentum, until she lights upon her prey and tears it limb from limb. She will smear the blood of the bison, deer, elk—whichever unfortunate creature wandered into her crosshairs—across her face and lift her head toward the moon. She will howl like a wolf, but more feral, as if she could shatter the forest with her scream. She will raise her arms and extend her hands, palms facing upward, to the heavens. She will chant ancient chants, long lost to mortals, in the hope of summoning the White Bull. She will be forever wanting. The nature of a maenad is to want. She does so unapologetically, embraces her abjection, her sloppy, unseemly female need.

A maenad needs many things: meat; mead; the caress of the cold wind on her arms; the damp, black loam of the woods between her toes; the flesh and fur of her prey beneath her fingernails; and, above all, the One True Bull. This is bull, you might say, and she would merely regard you with pity. Poor you! Not knowing enough of the divine to long for it. To want it hysterically. To need it like she needs the night wrapped around her. Maenads do not sleep because there is too much night to want. No number of nights can fill the need.

As the night begins to wane and the first insinuations of dawn insert themselves in the horizon, a maenad will survey the havoc she has wrought and congratulate herself on another night well-lived. She may retreat to the forest and sleep the day away on its floor. Or she may not. She may just be getting started. For the day has its own wilderness, and a maenad is a wild thing indeed.




back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

When a Maenad…

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

by Allison Floyd

This is part four. Read the suite from the beginning.


When a Maenad Goes on a Date

She will order the most expensive item on the menu: prime rib, bloody in the middle, and many bottles of Cabernet. She’ll rip the hunks of meat with her bare hands and lick the blood from her fingers. The flowers you gave her will be scattered on the floor, a ruined pile of shredded petals. When dessert arrives, she’ll crawl across the white tablecloth and rake her talons through your hair.

At this point, the maître-d will intervene, and you will be asked to leave.

You’ll attempt to extricate your maenad’s claws from your hair. She is, it turns out, stronger than you, and snarls at your attempts.

“We have to leave,” you say. “People are looking.”

And they are. All eyes are on you, and they are not approving.

“Fuck them,” your maenad says. “And fuck me.”

You try to maintain your composure.

Your maenad drags you to the parking lot. You’re barely in the car before she attacks you, and soon your shirt is in tatters. She rakes her claws down your chest, and when you look down, rivulets of blood are streaming down your torso. She kisses you with such violence that it may as well be a punch. In spite of yourself, you find yourself kissing her back. Before you know it, you’ve blacked out.

When you come to, you’ll be in your own bed, with no idea how you got there. Every inch of you will hurt. You’ll wonder what has become of your maenad. As you sit up, a few errant leaves will fall from your hair. You’ll notice dirt beneath your fingernails. Memories of the forest will wash over you: the full moon, the animal howls, the teeming thrum of insect life. The smell of blood, desire, and terror—intoxicating.

You’ll stagger out of bed and get ready for work. You’ll think of all that life could be. Crawling along in gridlock traffic, you will remember the night you were wild. You will remember the night you were free.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

When a Maenad…

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

by Allison Floyd

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning.


When a Maenad Goes on a Job Interview

            Her eye contact will be fierce and unrelenting, and her firm handshake will border on violence. There will be moss and bark stuck to her suit and a moth in her hair. Something about her will seem familiar.

She’ll answer each interview question with, “Well, I always ask myself—what would Dionysus do? And then I try to do that.”

She will account for gaps in employment with tales of sabbaticals spent running wild in the forest, howling at the moon, and communing with other wild things.

            “I’d rather have gaps in my employment than in my lived experience,” she’ll tell you. 

            Trust fund, you’ll think.

The way she looks at you will make you feel like she can see the gap inside of you, your plastered-on lacuna smile, your empty eyes, the vacant stock responses that roll off your tongue like rabbit pellets. You perfected your persona long ago.

            “Do you mind if I smoke?” she’ll ask you, and it will be a rhetorical question.

            Of course you mind if she smokes. No one can smoke indoors in this day and age. Everyone knows that.

            Undaunted, she’ll take out a hand-rolled cigarette and light up. Fragrant, herbal smoke will fill the room while you sit there, speechless, unable to believe this is happening. She will of course set off the fire alarm, activating the ceiling sprinklers, soaking you, her, and the rest of the hiring committee.

            Your maenad will cackle with shrieks of wild glee, jump up on the conference room table and dance a crazy rain dance, arms outstretched, embracing the steady spray of water.

            You’ll reach under the table and press the panic button, the one that summons the police.

            She is so not getting this job, you’ll think.

            And you know she won’t care, because she’s already doing exactly what she needs to be. What she was put here to do.

            You will feel a creeping jealousy in spite of yourself.

            Why can’t that be me? You’ll think.

            And spend the rest of the day, and your life, doing what you’re supposed to.

            Later, in the restroom, you’ll pick a moth from your hair. It will make you wonder.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

When a Maenad…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

by Allison Floyd

This is part two. Read the suite from the beginning.


When a Maenad Does the Housework            

She will lick each plate clean and then smash it on the floor. She’ll tear the dirty drapes to shreds with her bare hands and set them on fire in the backyard. When she notices dirt on the floor, she’ll smear it with her bare feet so everything blends. When there are no clean wineglasses, she’ll throw the dirty ones against the wall and shriek in delight as the shards rain down. When the wine opener is nowhere to be found, she’ll smash the neck of the bottle against the counter and imbibe in great greedy gulps, the liquid cascading down her face and neck in purple rivers. When the linens are soiled, she’ll wipe her ass with them and decide to sleep on the floor. It’s too hot for linens anyway. A maenad’s blood runs hot.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

When a Maenad…

Monday, December 14th, 2020

by Allison Floyd


When you Invite a Maenad to Dinner

Don’t be surprised if she shows up with blood in the corners of her mouth.  The wine she brings will be in a goatskin,  and there will likely be tufts of bull fur matted in her hair. When you seat her next to your best girlfriend from high school, things might get ugly. 

Your best girlfriend from high school will make allusions to being a princess, to wearing her big girl panties, and to honoring the Girl Code. She will religiously count calories, dipping the tines of her fork in the shallow bowl of dressing beside her salad. “That way you get the flavor, without all the calories,” she will say.

Your maenad, meanwhile, will be forcing a grin, baring her sharp teeth in the process. She will have dirt under her fingernails and scratches like deep ravines running up and down her arms.  Her laugh will resemble a low growl, or if she finds something particularly amusing, it will dangerously resemble a shriek. Your best girlfriend from high school will falter in her company, ask your maenad if she was in a sorority, ask her about her girlfriends.

Your maenad will pull long draughts from her goatskin. Rivulets of wine will trickle down her chin and she will belch unabashedly.  Your best girlfriend from high school will shoot you a look, like OMG, and you will hastily excuse yourself to go check on the roast.

Your maenad will take this moment to propose a toast to Dionysus, and your best girlfriend from high school will ask her if she’s Greek.

You maenad will issue a grimace that is truly terrifying, and she will say, “More importantly, I’m with the band. Bottoms up!”  And she will swill more of her fetid wine, which seems to congeal as it runs down her chin.

You will return from the kitchen, arms laden with the roast you’ve prepared for dinner.  Your best girlfriend from high school will look markedly uncomfortable.  “Oh, the calories!” she’ll say, casting a nervous glance at your maenad.

You will set the roast on the table and your maenad will pounce before you’ve even had a chance to remove your hands from the platter. She will grab hunks of meat and start ripping them to shreds she will voraciously stuff into her mouth, which she will not bother to close when chewing.

This will be the last straw for your best girlfriend from high school, who will set down her glass of chardonnay with more force than she intended to.  “That’s disgusting,” she’ll say, “Who the eff raised you?”

Your maenad will bare her teeth, which have hunks of gristle caught between them. The goatskin will come out again, and after she’s gulped her fill of fetid wine, your maenad will say, “This is nice and bloody—just the way I like it.”

It will belatedly occur to you that you should have given your best girlfriend from high school a briefing on just what to expect at dinner with a Maenad. Since you didn’t, and since your best girlfriend from high school is accordingly unprepared for the situation, she folds her cloth napkin in prim creases, and lays it on her chair once she’s pulled it back from the table and stood up. 

“No civilized person could be expected to eat with”—she will make a dramatic hand flourish in your maenad’s direction—“this. I’m leaving,” she says.

You offer your objections, but for your best high school girlfriend, the line has been well and truly crossed. The door has closed behind her before you’ve had the chance to fully process what just happened.

You cast a reproachful glance at your maenad, who is licking the blood from the rare roast from her fingers. She catches the look you’re giving her and shrugs. “Never could stand a priss.” She finishes her sentence with a resounding belch and pulls out her goatskin. “Now the party can start,” she says.

Then you hear someone at the door. A gaggle of crazed-looking women see themselves in, their hair matted with fur, dirt, and leaves, their faces streaked with mud, their sharp fingernails—more like talons, really—filthy, their loose dresses falling off their shoulders, and their eyes shining with the wild secrets of the forest. Each carries a goatskin, which they raise to the members of their collective and swig.

“I hope you don’t mind that I brought company,” your maenad says, proffering you her goatskin. Meanwhile the other maenads descend on the shredded remnants of the roast, tearing hunks of meat and stuffing them into their mouths as fast as they can.

Your tablecloth is hopelessly stained with meat juices and wine and you doubt all of them will come out.  The maenads adjourn to the backyard, where they welcome the full moon with bouts of frenzied dancing and shrieking, joined in a circle and moving faster and faster until they’re all a blur, and you watch through the sliding glass door, enthralled and horrified.

You hear more commotion at the front door and the maenads drop to their knees, lift their heads in unspeakable ecstasy. A horned man, bare-chested and wearing leather pants, swaggers through your kitchen. His body is simultaneously sculpted and razor thin. He is wearing a crown of flowers and leaves. Everything about him spells trouble. He makes his way toward the backyard to join his entourage.

And now, you think to yourself, watching in rapt, helpless fascination, shit is really about to hit the fan.

When a Maenad Does the Housework

She will lick each plate clean and then smash it on the floor. She’ll tear the dirty drapes to shreds with her bare hands and set them on fire in the backyard. When she notices dirt on the floor, she’ll smear it with her bare feet so everything blends. When there are no clean wineglasses, she’ll throw the dirty ones against the wall and shriek in delight as the shards rain down. When the wine opener is nowhere to be found, she’ll smash the neck of the bottle against the counter and imbibe in great greedy gulps, the liquid cascading down her face and neck in purple rivers. When the linens are soiled, she’ll wipe her ass with them and decide to sleep on the floor. It’s too hot for linens anyway. A maenad’s blood runs hot.

When a Maenad Goes on a Job Interview

Her eye contact will be fierce and unrelenting, and her firm handshake will border on violence. There will be moss and bark stuck to her suit and a moth in her hair. Something about her will seem familiar.

She’ll answer each interview question with, “Well, I always ask myself—what would Dionysus do? And then I try to do that.”

She will account for gaps in employment with tales of sabbaticals spent running wild in the forest, howling at the moon, and communing with other wild things.

“I’d rather have gaps in my employment than in my lived experience,” she’ll tell you. 

Trust fund, you’ll think.

The way she looks at you will make you feel like she can see the gap inside of you, your plastered-on lacuna smile, your empty eyes, the vacant stock responses that roll off your tongue like rabbit pellets. You perfected your persona long ago.

“Do you mind if I smoke?” she’ll ask you, and it will be a rhetorical question.

Of course you mind if she smokes. No one can smoke indoors in this day and age. Everyone knows that.

Undaunted, she’ll take out a hand-rolled cigarette and light up. Fragrant, herbal smoke will fill the room while you sit there, speechless, unable to believe this is happening. She will of course set off the fire alarm, activating the ceiling sprinklers, soaking you, her, and the rest of the hiring committee.

Your maenad will cackle with shrieks of wild glee, jump up on the conference room table and dance a crazy rain dance, arms outstretched, embracing the steady spray of water.

You’ll reach under the table and press the panic button, the one that summons the police.

She is so not getting this job, you’ll think.

And you know she won’t care, because she’s already doing exactly what she needs to be. What she was put here to do.

You will feel a creeping jealousy in spite of yourself.

Why can’t that be me? You’ll think.

And spend the rest of the day, and your life, doing what you’re supposed to.

Later, in the restroom, you’ll pick a moth from your hair. It will make you wonder.

When a Maenad Goes on a Date

She will order the most expensive item on the menu: prime rib, bloody in the middle, and many bottles of Cabernet. She’ll rip the hunks of meat with her bare hands and lick the blood from her fingers. The flowers you gave her will be scattered on the floor, a ruined pile of shredded petals. When dessert arrives, she’ll crawl across the white tablecloth and rake her talons through your hair.

At this point, the maître-d will intervene, and you will be asked to leave.

You’ll attempt to extricate your maenad’s claws from your hair. She is, it turns out, stronger than you, and snarls at your attempts.

“We have to leave,” you say. “People are looking.”

And they are. All eyes are on you, and they are not approving.

“Fuck them,” your maenad says. “And fuck me.”

You try to maintain your composure.

Your maenad drags you to the parking lot. You’re barely in the car before she attacks you, and soon your shirt is in tatters. She rakes her claws down your chest, and when you look down, rivulets of blood are streaming down your torso. She kisses you with such violence that it may as well be a punch. In spite of yourself, you find yourself kissing her back. Before you know it, you’ve blacked out.

When you come to, you’ll be in your own bed, with no idea how you got there. Every inch of you will hurt. You’ll wonder what has become of your maenad. As you sit up, a few errant leaves will fall from your hair. You’ll notice dirt beneath your fingernails. Memories of the forest will wash over you: the full moon, the animal howls, the teeming thrum of insect life. The smell of blood, desire, and terror—intoxicating.

You’ll stagger out of bed and get ready for work. You’ll think of all that life could be. Crawling along in gridlock traffic, you will remember the night you were wild. You will remember the night you were free.

When a Maenad Goes Out at Night 

She runs through the forest, gaining momentum, until she lights upon her prey and tears it limb from limb. She will smear the blood of the bison, deer, elk—whichever unfortunate creature wandered into her crosshairs—across her face and lift her head toward the moon. She will howl like a wolf, but more feral, as if she could shatter the forest with her scream. She will raise her arms and extend her hands, palms facing upward, to the heavens. She will chant ancient chants, long lost to mortals, in the hope of summoning the White Bull. She will be forever wanting. The nature of a maenad is to want. She does so unapologetically, embraces her abjection, her sloppy, unseemly female need.

A maenad needs many things: meat; mead; the caress of the cold wind on her arms; the damp, black loam of the woods between her toes; the flesh and fur of her prey beneath her fingernails; and, above all, the One True Bull. This is bull, you might say, and she would merely regard you with pity. Poor you! Not knowing enough of the divine to long for it. To want it hysterically. To need it like she needs the night wrapped around her. Maenads do not sleep because there is too much night to want. No number of nights can fill the need.

As the night begins to wane and the first insinuations of dawn insert themselves in the horizon, a maenad will survey the havoc she has wrought and congratulate herself on another night well-lived. She may retreat to the forest and sleep the day away on its floor. Or she may not. She may just be getting started. For the day has its own wilderness, and a maenad is a wild thing indeed.






back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

The Wall — A Perspective in Three Stories

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

by Jeaninne Escallier Kato

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning.


El Jardinero (The Gardener)

Grief consumes her like a mouse being squeezed to death in the body of a snake. She often struggles for each breath. After fifty years of marriage, Marlene’s purpose is gone.

“Senora,” Enrique inquires through the sliding door screen. “Do you need me to clear the weeds behind your back wall?”

She answers, “No, thank you, Enrique. Not today. Your check is on the patio table.”

Enrique hesitates. “I am so sorry for your loss, Senor Fred was a good man. If you need money, or anything, I am here to help.”

Marlene fights back her tears. Her extended family has all but disappeared; yet, this humble man with no discernible income is offering all he has.

“Enrique, I wouldn’t think of asking you for money, but thank you for your kindness. Please come in. I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”

Enrique wipes his face with his handkerchief and rinses his hands in the outside faucet before he removes his shoes to enter her kitchen. He declines the coffee and asks for a glass of water instead. Marlene motions for him to sit at the antique kitchen table before bringing their drinks. He looks around the room noting her many family photos.

“Forgive the house, but I’ve been too tired to clean today. Can I ask you a personal question, Enrique?”

Not accustomed to such a breach in gardener/client etiquette, Enrique doesn’t know what to say. He fingers the gold cross hanging around his neck.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” Marlene realizes she has said too much.

“No, forgive me, Senora. Please continue.”

“Well, you are a man of faith, right?” Enrique nods his head in agreement. “You see, I was raised Catholic, but I can’t get past the fear that I won’t see my husband after I die. I’m not even sure there is a heaven. How do you go on without your beloved wife?”

Enrique’s eyes soften. “Senora, I am a simple man who understands nothing in this life, but like the sun that shines every day, even behind dark clouds, I know God is real.”

Marlene is intrigued. “May I ask how you know?”

As he rises to leave, Enrique rubs his chest over his heart and says, “Love.”

Marlene returns to her easy chair and clicks on the TV. The president is preaching about building a wall.





back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Welcome to
defenestrationism reality.

Read full projects from our
retro navigation panel, left,
or start with !What's New!

Follow Us