by Bryce Emley
It was a haze of smoke when he tried to picture her, so one morning he started mixing her into his day, watching the gray fade slowly as he stirred and remembering how she would mix hot cocoa for him like this when it was cold outside. He had never drank coffee before this.
The potential jokes didn't escape him: I'll take mine with cream and ashes, or You want some coffee with those remains? He didn't laugh when he thought about this.
The brew stayed black and he sipped it slowly, letting every mouthful fill him with her warmth. He tried to imagine her swimming through his veins, coursing through his blood like the platelets form the videos he saw in science class once, clotting his wounds. Healing.
He remembered learning about a tribe somewhere in Africa or South America in which the members ate their dead. He thought about this afterward.
He watched as the level lowered week by week, the urn filling slowly with its emptiness, his body filling slowly with her. He remembered learning somewhere that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed, and if the urn contained every bit of her in a concentrated dosage, then by his containing her she could never truly leave the world, just transform.
No one seemed to notice the urn grow lighter. No one seemed to notice him growing larger, filling to the brim with her, becoming someone new.
When she was gone he would think about her sometimes, her face gradually rising through the static.
Note: First published by NANO Fiction (Issue 6.1, 2013).
Maybe what's interesting about how I wrote this is that it wasn't very interesting. I read an issue of NANO Fiction and thought, I want to write stories like that. So I tried. I'm more of a poetry guy, so this style is just more in my wheelhouse.
Bryce is a freelance writer and MFA student at NC State. His work can be found in Best American Experimental Writing 2015, The Normal School, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Your Impossible Voice, etc., and he serves on staff for Raleigh Review and BULL: Men's Fiction.
FF.Net Editor Commentary (Randall Brown)
This flash revolves around a single action: the narrator's mixing of his dead lover's ashes into his coffee. I love that about flash, its ability to revolve around singularities, rather than action after failed action all leading to the inevitable transformation. I love the bounds of this action, how the ashes cannot last forever. That's something for me to learn from this amazing flash--how deadlines or finish lines or inevitable endings add to the urgency and wonder of the action.