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Saturday, August 4, 2012

What You Know

The winning entry in our third annual Ultra Flash Fiction contest is Joe Mills of Winston-Salem.  His entry is posted below.

What You Know

You can smell the smoke when he comes home, but you don’t ask.  He’ll just shrug and say, “You know the bar.”  If you don’t ask, he won’t lie.  Don’t ask.  Don’t tell.  It has worked for the two of you for years.  It’s what keeps you with him now.  You choose not to know what he does or where he goes or what he thinks when he sits and stares.  Whole parts of his life are blacked out like blank spots on a map.  You can live with this.  You have lived with this.  You don’t need to know. 

But you do know.  You can smell his breath.  You can smell the smoke on his shirt and coat.  It might just be from the air in the bar, or he might have just had one or two.  Or a whole pack.  And that’s that.  If you want, you can chart out how you feel and what you might say to what he might say.  It can all be done in the mind.  You don’t have to ask to know. 

But there’s a smell that’s not smoke.  A new one.  A strong sweet one.  One you don’t know.  One that’s not from the bar.  One that makes you more scared than the smoke.  Don’t ask, and he won’t tell.   Ask, and he still might not tell.  Or he might.  Do you want to know?  Do you need to know? 

But you do know.   You have known the truth for years.   You can smell it.

1 comment:

  1. Damn. Good stuff. It makes mine smell, and I know it. Knew it when I sent it. The truth is: your piece is well done, and you are the champ.