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Story by Jason Sprinkle (Read author interview) July 30, 2021

Photograph by Floraf

It was Friday night and the only people in the strip mall parking lot were trapped families at Cheeseburger in Paradise, an anxious security guard keeping watch over the Dollar Tree, teenage employees shutting down PetCo, and us. Stoned and weepy off of malt liquor, my friend and I sat in his mom’s beat-up Toyota Camry, still wearing our McDonald’s uniforms. Our boss had fired me hours ago for trying to steal a toy, a birthday present for my eight-year-old brother, a child who only had a twin bed and sick parents. My friend wanted to do donuts in the concrete expanse to cheer me up. I told my friend that every action is a responsibility making machine. If we popped a tire, smashed into a parked car, or left a stain on the parking lot then it’d be our fault, and I didn’t need any more faults. I told my friend that we should sit still, let the Camry become a coffin and have weeds grow through cracks in the pavement, wrap around our legs and bloom through our empty eyes. My friend laughed and turned up a song by Afroman. The chorus outlined the minimal requirements for happiness: booze and blunts. He uprooted the car, and we swerved around the parking lot, its expanse collapsing with every rotation.

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This micro was a finalist in the 2021 SmokeLong Grand Micro Contest. 

About the Author

Jason Sprinkle is a writer and software developer from Austin, Texas. He is an Assistant Editor at American Short Fiction, and an editor at Abandon Journal. His work is forthcoming in Rejection Letters and has been published in Moon Park Review, Trash Magazine, Free Flash Fiction, and others.

About the Artist

Floraf is a photographer from France.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-Two
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.