• Marías at Sampaguitas

Flash Fiction by Chella Courington

Alpenglow

Amy, the recent hire, who was, of all things, an economist, had just started on her third glass when a loud knock brought silence over us. The door opened and revealed a delivery guy in a red and white shirt with a tower of pizzas.

“Looks like the inciting incident in a bad porno movie,” Amy said. Her smile crooked and adorable. I paid him and carried them to the cherry table. The women, mostly teachers celebrating Friday and freedom from school, turned back to the charming females around them while I spread the boxes, making way for each and every guest to find what she wanted.

They ate their pizza. Some used their right hand, folding each slice like a New Yorker then gobbling it down. Another treated it like a piece of meat, cutting it with a knife before picking it up with a fork. Amy fingered her pizza, stripping asparagus bits from the top before pulling off strands of mozzarella as she worked her way down to the crust.

“Anyone ready for decaf?” I asked, counted fingers, and left for the kitchen.

“I’ll help,” Amy said.

I looked at her Joni Mitchell t-shirt, newly-filled wine glass, and cowboy boots, wondering if the red spot next to Joni’s hair was tomato sauce or cabernet.

“Mugs,” I said and pointed to the cupboard then moved to the coffeemaker, adding grounds and water.

“How many?” Amy asked.

“Five. How are you settling in?”

“Comme ci, comme ça.”

“Any problem finding a place?” I asked.

“I got a new one-bedroom at Vaughn Lakes,” Amy said.

“Is that the complex with gorgeous pools?”

“Do you swim?” Amy asked.

“I like the water but mostly float.”

Leaning against the counter, her jeans just tight enough, Amy looked like a swimmer. About 5’10” with long arms and a slim figure, she appeared younger than I. Only a trace of gray and her wrinkles seemed more from mirth than worry. Her neck was smooth and uncreased, not yet leathery from too much sun.

“You have a spot,” I said dampening a towel and handing it to her.

Looking down, she inspected her shirt. “I do,” she said.

I watched as she slowly rubbed in circles, red turning to faint pink.

I felt my sweatshirt cling to my skin and opened the window above the sink. The coffee’s finishing hiss called me back.

After Amy filled the blue pitcher with milk, I placed it on the tray and added a plate of biscotti.

“What else can I do?” she asked.

“Do you mind serving?” Pouring the coffee, I tried to hit that mark where either black or white can still be a full cup.

Amy rearranged them for balance, glancing up at me—pausing for what could have been an eternity before she walked out the kitchen to the table.

I observed her leave, hips sliding with the tray’s weight. And I was wet, drenched in a way that rarely ever happened. An overripe fruit suddenly burst. With cold water, I splashed my face. Outside the setting sun covered the mountains in pale gold.




Chella Courington’s poetry and fiction appear in anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly and New World Writing. Her flash novella, Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage (Breaking Rules Publishing), is featured at Vancouver Flash Fiction. A 2020 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington (she/her) lives in California.

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