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  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Flash Fiction by Christine Fojas


The blue bristles of her toothbrush were fading.

Mayumi peered into the steam-covered mirror, baring her teeth before spitting into the sink. She hated them, how they protruded like tusks from her mouth, how yellow they seemed against the pink-brown of her lips. In pictures, she was careful to smile with lips pressed together.

She had never been kissed.

The stray thought pulled her mood down, so she tried her best to shake it off. She rinsed her mouth and replaced the toothbrush in its holder. Buy a new one, she mentally added to her list. The never-ending list. If she wrote them all down, the entire timber industry would crumble.

She slid into today’s outfit: the black skirt just past her knees, the peach wrap blouse. Pearl stud earrings, a dab of perfume just below. Her plastic tortoise-shell frames settled on her flat nose.

“Well, Mayumi. This is as good as it gets,” she informed the stranger in the mirror. Pep talk over, she walked out of the house to grind her flat nose against the wheel and burn her eyebrows and what other metaphors could turn her diem into diamante.

Her phone buzzed, notifications piling on top of each other. She did a cursory check, but it was all banal and unimaginative greetings from old high school classmates, whose faces had blurred together in her myopic memory.

[Happy birthday, Mayumi! Happy 30th!]

She grimaced. Like she needed another reminder that there's thirty-five more years between now until her retirement. Unless she died first.

When did birthdays stop being fun? Her boss had a thing about professionalism. Parties were discouraged. Just keep to your cubicle. Fake smiles. Today was just another day.

She passed a neighbor on the way out and made polite noises at his cheery greeting.

On the train, her eyes skimmed over the mountains in the distance, her mind floating almost untethered. The man sitting beside her had earphones on and spoke into the mic cradled between his lips. She wondered what they had to talk about this early in the day. She wondered about people in relationships, about the flavor of their conversations. What was it that brought them together?

The doors slid open at her stop, and she hesitated before stepping out. On the platform, she watched the train slither onwards, like a snake, an ouroboros. She closed her eyes, imagining the loop of this animal, fangs biting deep into its own tail, circling and circling without end.

And in that moment, she faded away, mind unravelling like a song swallowed by the howling wind.

The next train arrived.

Christine Fojas is a Filipino-Canadian hailing from Las Piñas City and currently living in Metro Vancouver. She has a BA in Comparative Literature from University of the Philippines and works as a library technician at Douglas College. A list of her publications can be found at her website. She also blogs at She is a regular contributor for Marías at Sampaguitas.

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