the museum of americana

a literary review

A Depth so Familiar—Flash Fiction by Peg Alford Pursell

 

The day after Christmas. Snowing. The countryside white. All the streets. Dark footprints led to the station. Inside, she watched the names of cities display as a train arrived or left. At the end of the day of her ninth birthday, wearing a paper crown on her head, she’d proclaimed she would never get married. Her little brothers and sisters slept upstairs, clutching dolls and stuffed animals, homework finished, candy stashed in their book bags. The roiling green along the edges of her life: that was memory. Mostly forgotten life. Once upon a time there were answering machines, and when she left a message she believed it played into an empty room. No one could have told her she would go with him because he had a scar. A depth so familiar. Anything can happen: anytime. The medallion he’d worn around his neck caught the sun through the window. His fingers locked around her arms. Anything can happen. She began to apologize, knowing it was too late. He said her voice reminded him of a naked corpse left on a tower for vultures. A smell of sulphur, hot metal, ionizing clouds. Her lip plump with blood. She tried and failed to recall every word she’d said. She tried to seal herself away from the touch of his hand on her body. Days from now the row of purple fingerprints stamped into her arm. Open that door and I’ll forget, he’d said. But she left. She’d gotten this far, to the station. Trains arrived and left again, and would. Snow would fall, melt, fall again.

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peg photoPeg Alford Pursell is a literary community builder with a grand passion for literature. Since 2010, she has curated and produced the monthly reading series Why There Are Words, one of the SF Bay Area’s leading live venues for authors, and recently launched WTAW Press, a new independent literary publisher based in Northern California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Forklift OhioVOLTRHINO, Permafrost, Eleven Eleven, Tupelo Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, JoylandYour Impossible VoiceThe Cortland Review, and others. Her book SHOW HER A FLOWER, A BIRD, A SHADOW is forthcoming from ELJ Editions, March 2017.