Flash Fiction 3rd Place: Two Stories or How Much It Matters for Everything to Happen in Order by Kristen Loesch
Anna grew up in a faintly floral-patterned room in dairy country. Starched-dry grass for miles. Maybe that’s how it all began, the teleporting. (Mama used to say she’d love to see Paris, London, Tokyo. Nowadays, Mama only sighs.) Anna learned how from Mama’s first real boyfriend. Trevor said if she weren’t careful, she could disappear completely, in the blurry, milky, in-between mirror. Gone. Like Trevor’s seat at the dinner table on her sixteenth birthday. (Trevor never stops telling her to visit, that you ain’t betraying your Mama, honey. She knows you love her. Just don’t say anything. Anna manages once a month. Never knows what to talk about.) When Anna was young, it felt natural, fading, returning in secret, years being relived, new memories scattered and out of order. But recently Anna has begun to wake before her future. She stares into the daybreak for hours, remembers. She can see a car flying down the road, girl behind the wheel, with rippling hair, twisted smile, body like metal, with fire in her blood, eyes, breaths. Anna thinks how if jump around too much you, in that place, it’s end impossible to tell is where the. People often ask where Anna’s gone. Not Anna’s husband, though. They had their own farm once. Don’t matter if it’s dark, you gotta wake up, he’d say. You hear me, Anna? To milk the cows. Remember to keep both feet on the ground when you do it.
Mama manages to visit Anna once a month, in the in-between place, in a faintly floral-patterned room. She never knows what to talk about first. Anna’s seat at the dinner table? Anna on her sixteenth birthday? The twisted car, a rippling fire, metal scattered like grass, Trevor’s body behind the wheel, Anna with blurry breaths, starched-dry eyes, blood in her hair? That nowadays, before daybreak, she often stares into the mirror for hours, sighs, remembers when Anna was young they had their own farm, not miles down the road; for years it felt natural to wake, milk the cows – Anna only learned how from Trevor, remember to keep both feet on the ground when you do it, he’d say; thinks how Anna used to say she’d love to see Paris, London, Tokyo, with her future boyfriend, and Trevor once said she could disappear completely if she weren’t careful, if you jump around too much, like maybe that’s how it all began? Mama’s new husband never stops telling her just don’t say anything. You ain’t betraying your girl; she knows you love her. People ask where Anna’s gone, gone, but recently, in that milky smile, Mama has begun to see memories, being relived in secret, out of order. Flying, fading, returning. Teleporting, though it’s impossible to tell where the end is. Mama grew up in real dairy country. Can you hear me, Anna? Don’t matter if it’s dark, honey, you gotta wake up.