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Flash Fiction Reprint: Tania Hershman’s “And Bruised”

And Bruised

by Tania Her­sh­man

Six­teen and bruised, I was pur­pled and swol­len, insides aching, mus­cles stretched to their
elas­tic point. I stood by the side of the road, leav­ing, again. Leav­ing it all but know­ing that
the find­ing was like the leav­ing, just the other side of the knife tip.


I got a ride some­where and they let me off some­where else, and I knew I was lost. Not

just aim­less, but really lost. And then I met you, on the road. You might have had a halo, a

light shin­ing from every pore of your body, because that’s what you were to me, my own

per­sonal Jesus.


You pull me to you and I feel your good­ness and I’m still feel­ing it when we’re in the

motel and you’re stroking my hair and we’re touch­ing each other between the legs, and I still

feel it when you cut me, when I’m bleed­ing.


And I’ll never say you killed me, I’ll never point the fin­ger and say that you’re a

mur­derer, because you didn’t, you aren’t. You freed me. You shook me from my skin, you

undid all my pieces, and you let me fly.



Note: First pub­lished in BRAND, a UK print mag­a­zine — now defunct — in 2008, and then in Drunk and Lonely Men, a now-defunct online mag­a­zine, also in 2008.


Author’s Note

The mag­a­zine that first pub­lished this story edited it and pub­lished the edited ver­sion with­out ask­ing for my per­mis­sion — and it was a sub­stan­tial edit for such a tiny story! I was deeply shocked and I com­plained — where­upon the edi­tor of this now-defunct jour­nal insisted she’d made it bet­ter. She’d changed the con­tent, it wasn’t just a few com­mas! Finally, they pub­lished an apol­ogy, in the fol­low­ing issue, but I was delighted when Drunk and Lonely Men accepted the orig­i­nal ver­sion for pub­li­ca­tion — and immensely thrilled for it to appear, in the orig­i­nal, here. A cau­tion­ary tale, but also one with a happy end­ing!


tania3bw.jpgTania Her­sh­man is the author of two story col­lec­tions: My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fic­tions (Tan­gent Books, 2012), and The White Road and Other Sto­ries (Salt, 2008; com­mended, 2009 Orange Award for New Writ­ers) and co-author of Writ­ing Short Sto­ries: A Writ­ers and Artists Com­pan­ion (Blooms­bury, 2014). Tania’s award-win­ning short sto­ries and poetry have been widely pub­lished in print and online and broad­cast on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and included in the anthol­ogy Flash Fic­tion Inter­na­tional (Nor­ton, 2015). Tania is founder and cura­tor of Short­Stops (www.shortstops.info), cel­e­brat­ing short story activ­ity across the UK & Ire­land. She is study­ing for a PhD in Cre­ative Writ­ing at Bath Spa Uni­ver­sity explor­ing the inter­sec­tion between fic­tion and par­ti­cle physics. www.taniahershman.com.


FF.Net Edi­tor Com­men­tary (Ran­dall Brown) 

There is aching, leav­ing, know­ing, find­ing, shin­ing, feel­ing, touch­ing, bleed­ing. This tense per­haps shows con­tin­u­ing action, some­thing going on. That tense ends, doesn’t appear in the final para­graph. Instead, there’s say, killed, point, didn’t, aren’t, freed, shook, undid, let fly. There’s some­thing to take from “And Bruised”–besides the won­der of this bril­liantly ren­dered story. Cre­ate some kind of pat­tern and, in the end, undo it. Not only do char­ac­ters or cir­cum­stances or under­stand­ings change, but so too might the lan­guage itself. 

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