SmokeLong Quarterly
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by Sherrie Flick

art by Robinson Accola
art by Robinson Accola
The sun refuses to begin. Franci doesn’t ask why a strip of muslin stretches across their lives these days. She unfolds herself in the dim light, slides into her clothes. Wendel drags his feet from the warm flannel sheets to the cold floor to his boots. He coils his scarf, twists it tight over his mouth.

She’s careful to mark her territory, shoulders square in the cold bucket seat, arms at her sides. Wendel starts the car. Once—twice, he taps the brakes on the descent. Franci sends gray steam toward the windshield.

Now, in the bitter light, Wendel has dropped Franci off on the street where she shops for vegetables. He says, he’ll be back once he’s done. She gathers ingredients for a quiet dinner—the surrender, the truce—she hopes might be their perfect future: fennel, potatoes, kale. Tarragon and parsley.

The gourds on the step are a reminder: time is short.

As thin as a slip, the light has followed her down the street. The butternuts—sexy at the waist—recline.

They remind Franci of a Fall street she knows Wendel barely remembers—there the loose wind curled the leaves. They held hands, walked by the apple trees’ crazy, gnarled branches. She doesn’t remember the tune he sang—just his face, younger, flecked with shadows—and happy.

Franci clutches the gourds, buys as many as she can hold.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2015 by its authors.

Sherrie Flick is author of the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting (Flume Press, 2004). Recent anthologies include New Sudden Fiction (Norton, 2007) and Flash Fiction Forward (Norton, 2006). A recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship, she lives in Pittsburgh where she is co-founder and artistic director of the Gist Street Reading Series. Her first novel Reconsidering Happiness will be published in Fall 2009.

Read the interview.

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.
Issue Twenty-Three (December 15, 2008): Ants by David Aichenbaum «» Earthrise by Christopher Bundy «» The World Before This One by Jon Chopan «» Ghost Bike by Thomas Cooper «» The Sway of Trains by Lydia Copeland «» Impressionists by Debra A. Daniel «» Danseuses Nues by David Harris Ebenbach «» The Head Fields by Terry Ehret «» Shadows by Sherrie Flick «» Heroin Girl by Larry Fondation «» She Doesn't Ask Where He Goes by Stefanie Freele «» Caved In by Barry Graham «» Chicago World's Fair, 1893 by Kyle Hemmings «» Coat and Shoes by Tania Hershman «» Thirteen by Tai Dong Huai «» Phoenix by W.P. Kinsella «» Nearly Free by Dorianne Laux «» Alien Lunch by Liane LeMaster «» The Society for the Preservation of Everything by Kuzhali Manickavel «» 216 East Boalt by Jeannie Vanasco «» Potatoes by Spencer Wise «» Interviews: David Aichenbaum «» Christopher Bundy «» Jon Chopan «» Thomas Cooper «» Lydia Copeland «» Debra A. Daniel «» David Harris Ebenbach «» Terry Ehret «» Sherrie Flick «» Larry Fondation «» Stefanie Freele «» Barry Graham «» Kyle Hemmings «» Tania Hershman «» Tai Dong Huai «» Dorianne Laux «» Liane LeMaster «» Kuzhali Manickavel «» Spencer Wise «» Cover Art "morpheus" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor

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