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At the Foot of the Mountain

Story by Ania Vesenny (Read author interview) March 29, 2015

The day after the avalanche, snowflakes fluttered like bugsthey gathered around my head, stung me just below my eyes, and burrowed into my mohair scarf to lay their eggs.

Bella pushed me towards the coffee counter. “Goddamn your regulations, we’re sitting outside,” she yelled over my shoulder. “She’s the sister!”

I wanted to slap the espresso machine and say she was the fiance, but two men at the window table looked up, and the owner said, “Sorry.” I kept my fists tight inside my pockets and let her order.

The mountains, gauzy and wide, towered just above, but I knew that even if the roads weren’t closed, it would still take us hours to get there. The snow around my hot chocolate melted in a perfect circle, revealing blue plastic tablecloth.

“I’m sure Xan will stay up in the cabin where it’s safe. He isn’t stupid,” Bella said.

When Xan was nine, I slid off the rocks into the knee-deep lily pond. I was twelve and wanted Randy Owen to jump after me. Xan clutched my hair and tried to drag me out. “I’m not drowning,” I yelled.

I nuzzled my paper cup with my lips and thought about air pockets, and whether he remembered to take his backpack off. Bella’s hair turned white with snow.

“When do you think we’ll hear?” I asked. The sky wasn’t night yet, but it already swallowed the mountains.

“You can’t change him, you know. He needs the edge,” she said and twisted her ring. “Maybe that’s what happiness is, not leafing through Modern Bride on Sundays, trying to find a moment when he isn’t talking about the trails, so I can kiss him and show him a wedding gown. Let’s go in.”

The cafe was loud, and orange, and smelled of freshly ground beans. My scarf was heavy now with melted snowflake larvae. I took it off, hit it against the back of a chair, and watched millions of glitter bugs fly.

About the Author

Ania Vesenny born and raised in the former USSR. Her flash fiction has appeared in Per Contra, FRiGG, Dogzplot, elimae, and elsewhere. Before moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia, she lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

About the Artist

Katherine Domsky is a Canadian currently living in Coastal Texas. She loves to shoot life as she comes upon it, and almost always has a camera slung over her shoulder. The contrasts and textures in the environment are particulary influential in her art. Katherine can be reached at katherinedomsky@gmail.com.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Four
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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.