Awkwardly, Diane held the woman’s dead hand trying to slide off the wedding rings. Her skin, like cold clay, gave resistance. The gold circle spun, a large document , uploading. She looked away with sudden 2 am ineptitude. He stood at the bedside, his warm fingers over Diane’s were a rescue.
“I put them on,” he said, “I’ll be the one to take them off.”
Time moves slowly in the desert propelling me at half the speed of light without stealing the memory of time travel from my sun-bleached gray matter. In my state of disillusionment, I find my cold body in the same place I left it; my brain having traversed the expanse of a million years of untouchable land coveting layers of history I shall never have access to. I have to live with this knowledge tucked behind the soft curves of my ears, always whispering at high decibels absorbed by silence.
The bones feel disconnected in his hands; they feel limp like a sleeping infant. Barnabus is almost afraid to peel back the silken edges, afraid of what he might find though the linear part of his brain knows very well what he will see. They gleam against the blanket, against the succulent soil in mounds.
Years ago I was challenged by my friend Joseph Bouthiette Jr. to create what he liked to call 55’s. These are pieces of fiction with exactly 55 words. He is obsessed with the number five. I have no idea why. He had invited me to be a part of an anthology that was made up entirely of 55 word stories. All the numbers moved around by five.
It seemed like a daunting task at the time as I was not a big fiction writer and had spent most of my time dealing in poetry. I had played around with flash fiction, but to be able to cut a precise piece of story out of the air in 55 words is exhilarating.
This challenge led me to write them all the time and honed the fiction I produce now. There was talk of another book, but it seems like his publishing days are on hold. Here is a story from what was supposed to be the final book in the collection:
I am haunted daily by his memory, knowing each thread was built on well crafted lies made to create a marble statue in his likeness. The truth has not set me free. Honesty has not made me stronger. Independence doesn’t feel courageous. Ghosts linger rattling chains made of spiderwebs. I should set myself on fire.