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21 Allen Drive

Story by Diane Gottlieb (Read author interview) September 19, 2022

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The way the deer gathered at dusk. The way the kids lay still on the trampoline, counting stars. The way the tall, thin pines stood so close their roots touched. The crisp night snows of November.

The Have-A-Hart traps for field mice seeking shelter in our home. The wide, sweeping windows, facing the woods. The vines and robins our painter stenciled on the dining room walls. The rooster he painted onto the kitchen table. Eggshell blue cabinets, butcher block counters, hickory boards underfoot.

I can still hear the tapping of woodpeckers, the yelps of wild turkeys as they charged our fearless terrier. I remember the soft tiny bat who made her home on our windowsill. The howling coyotes, alerting their pack of a kill.

The way my throat closed when I turned onto our long country driveway. The lights had not been turned on. The way my heart pounded when I opened the garage door to the empty spot where his Honda should have been. The way the house let us know. It was dark and silent, save the answering machine, screaming out flashes of red.

 

About the Author

Diane Gottlieb‘s writing appears or is forthcoming in Atlas and Alice, Bending Genres, Barrelhouse, The Rumpus, Split Lip, Brevity blog, 100-Word Story, and Hippocampus, among other literary journals, as well as in several anthologies. She is the winner of Tiferet‘s 2021 Writing Contest in nonfiction and is Prose/CNF Editor of Emerge Literary Journal. You can find her on Twitter @DianeGotAuthor.

This story appeared in A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.