Why not? I haven't posted a blog post in...too long. But inspired by re-reading a grim flash fiction piece full of heart, I thought, Why not?
Also, it gives me the opportunity to say, hey, I've been writing a lot. My novel, Birdland, is with agents, we'll see what, if anything, happens with them. I'm doing final revisions on another novel, Our Savage Anatomies. There's two collections in the mix (Winter in the Wasteland and Love in the Key of Suffering are the tentative titles), as well as perhaps a poetry collection (My Scars Recite Poems My Mouth Won't Repeat, another tentative title). There's also a couple of novels being written, waiting for me to wrap up the OSA revisions. So, a lot has been happening, even as my latest book (Occasional Beasts: Tales) was published in 2018. Time...flies, and then a pandemic throws everything out of whack.
But enough of this!
A grim flash fiction piece, as promised. It's an old tale, so don't judge too hard, haha... Written after a break-up around 16 1/2+ years ago, pure hell period. It's your Valentine's Day bittersweet treat. And rather bloody.
by John Claude Smith
He feels nothing: numb, empty….
He resorts to cutting himself as an exercise in sensation, in trying to feel something at a time when he feels nothing.
But even that does not break through.
He still feels nothing.
Acquiring a scalpel was easy, Tammy works at the clinic. She brought one to him without questions. He took it from her two days ago and closed the door before she had the opportunity to invite herself in or intrude in any other way.
He did not care about how rude it came off.
He does not care about much of anything.
But her. Alicia. The woman he loves.
The woman who left him.
(How could she leave me? How could she give up on us? The thoughts roll by in his head like a never-ending freight train, its self-destructive cargo branded in torturous repetition.)
He places the scalpel against his naked chest, pressing hard. The blade digs deep, blood streaming over his abdomen.
He grunts from the effort as he pulls the blade down. The incision is deep, opening his insides to the world. Well, not quite…. It opens him but will require the effort of his bare hands to continue the process.
Still, he is numb.
He sets the scalpel down and thrusts his fingers into the fresh wound. Pulling with supreme effort, he pries his chest wide open. Muscles and bones are wrenched from their usual homes, tearing and breaking.
He stops, sucks in a weary breath, and gazes into the moist red cavity.
He jostles things, moves them about, rearranging the internal in ways that give him access to his goal.
The thick muscle’s rhythm is consistent, even though this more extreme exercise would normally render one dead.
He feels dead inside already, so….
He reaches in with both hands, scalpel severing arteries, clean cuts that lack precision yet serve their purpose. Within minutes, he holds the beating heart in his hands.
And still feels nothing.
Well, what is the point of it all, then?
(He remembers how she used to put her hand on his chest, palm down, feeling the love, their bond, sensing the rightness of it all, staring intensely into each other’s eyes—enraptured--we are one … and her cherishing it, him as well, so close, so close…. “Let me drown in you,” she would say, and he would plead, “Let’s drown in us, please” … and both of them meaning it, unconditionally, without fear because this is what people live for in the first place!)
(And drowning now … drowning … flailing … sinking….)
He walks calmly to the car and starts it up, pulling out of the parking lot. The night is deep and uncaring. Nobody notices because at least other people can sleep.
He hasn’t slept in weeks.
He drives to where she lives. Sitting in the car, he stares at the house where she rents a room.
He scribbles a note on a piece of paper and exits the car.
He places the still beating heart at the foot of the door with the note.
No reason to knock or ring the doorbell; let her sleep. Let them all sleep.
Maybe someday he will sleep again as well….
He rereads the note: Since you own my heart, you might as well have it.
Unhappy and exhausted, he leaves, his head still reeling as the freight train rolls by.
Perhaps this gesture will help her to understand.
Perhaps she will just scream.
Numb, he drives alone into the deep and uncaring night….
So, there ya go. I hope you enjoyed my gruesome little tale.
Here's a link to my Amazon Author page so you can catch up with what's already out there while I load the chambers for some releases sooner than later.
Don't know who the artist is, but this is damn cool.