August 2014 Flashes
Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia. She has been publishing flash fiction since 1999 in a number of literary journals including Story, Mid-American Review, the Baltimore Review, and Smokelong Quarterly.
On the night they met he led her to the dance floor, over the music, a clicking of her pointed heels, which she rarely wore and a thumping of her heart, which she rarely felt. Hands of perfection and elbow turns of grace, he created a cave into which she crawled. For this safety, she commanded her feet to follow, and it worked, hope glittering inches above the floor, for a time.
But her feet heard rhythm in a pattern all their own and didn’t pay attention to his lead. Their coupling stumbled, bodies bumped, her feet in step to themselves. He smiled through this willful assertion of her appendages, and kept asking, until they were married and legally one.
They pretend her feet, like embarrassing family members, do not exist. He continues to smile, sometimes: fists clenched, wanting to subdue her unruly toes. And other times, her movement rings out in defiance he cannot help but attack. She learns silence and stillness nailed to the floor. They must shelter their lives from dancing. But sometimes in hollow, bruised hours she wakes, a scream in her throat and her feet, in the moonlight, dancing beneath the quilts.
I had never seen her want anything until this: a year on a sailboat, between islands in the Caribbean. Defer med. school to serve jerk chicken, smoke Caribbean weed and have sex on the hammock the head cook kept strung on the aft mid-deck. I’d be his assistant, she told me, not something her focused, studied life had suggested, but when she said it, two orange embers pulsed into flame on the flat prairies of her eyes. Through a final semester of Organic Chemistry and Advanced Physiology, she longed for days of inverted sky and the lullaby of waves, described the blank, wonderless blue, almost a coma of adventure. Everyone else called her crazy, and their voices moved in her brain, louder than the smack of waves or my urging her to leap into this chance. In September when dolphins swam in the crescent water beside this sailboat she had sliced from her memory, she rode an alternate tide, memorizing the bones in the hand, slicing open the kidney of her cadaver, then looking into its chest for the heart which was smaller than she expected.