Flash Fiction by Di Jayawickrema
Updated: May 11, 2019
All Surfaces Lose Their Tension
He saw her across campus on a bitter spring morning, the asphalt long between them. It was the waning days of his sophomore year, the elastic joy of college already worn. The trees thin. She walked fast, head down, drowning in a shapeless gray sweater, blurring into the day. But around her neck, she wore a thin scarf, bright whorls of orange and pink and green wound round and around, trailing to the ground. She crossed him soon. He turned as she passed, and saw the scarf lift in her wake. He felt a hollowing in his chest, the quick churn of fingers scooping out his organs, a clay cup on a wheel.
It was the end of his senior year when he saw her again, at a lingering house party. He had forgotten her. Around him, strangers pressed forward, tripping over words to map their futures, fear ballooning against hope. She was slumped silent against the wall, like him. Turning to her, he said, don’t people ever get tired. I’m tired, she said, smiling. They spoke in slow circles, holding half-empty red cups at their sides, until there was nothing left to do but fuck. As she lifted her head to kiss him, his mind looped to the sight of her two years ago with the bright scarf around her neck, the cup that spun open in his chest.
As their lips touched and parted, the cup filled with water. The water rose as her arms circled him. Don’t break, he thought as the water curved on the brim, and drew her closer. Over the years, the thin line of water arced inside him in moments, years that might slip past him. All the water clinging before the spill that comes too swift to mark the loss.
Di Jayawickrema is a Sri Lankan New Yorker currently living in Washington, DC. She teaches creative writing to kids and teens, and organizes for migrant justice. Her work has appeared in Unbroken, Flock, Ginosko Literary Journal, and The Albion Review. Find her on Twitter @onpapercuts.