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  • Writer's pictureMarías at Sampaguitas

Flash Fiction by Emily Harrison


With one elbow on the table and a cheek in your hand like a half crest moon, you watch the band play. The faces next to you are chatting quietly, so too are the bodies at the bar. You are silent amongst the crowd. He doesn’t like jazz – you decided to come alone.

You take a long sip of your drink – a Negroni, and empty the glass. He’ll mention how the saccharine orange lingers on your breath when you make it home. He waits for you; a phantasm.

The song ends, and the band pause momentarily for a ripple of applause. You don’t clap, but you smile at the clean-cut bassist and light a cigarette. The waiter asks if you want another. You say yes. Glasses clink, voices murmur, and then the band starts up again. They announce it’s their last of the night. ‘So What’ by Miles Davis.

Lips parted you take a slow drag. You know it’s bad for you. But so is starting a family with a man you’re unsure you love. You know which is worse. There are responsibilities you yearn to shun. He loathes you smoking.

The waiter sets down your fresh drink as the bassist runs their fingers smoothly across the strings. You think of all the things those fingers have touched – bar tops and steel wire. Silk linings and thin wrists. You ache to be all of them.

You think of all the things they could touch. Your body. Your heart. They seem strong. The bassist could cut you open and rummage around. They could play you from the inside. They could tell your fortunes and forego pleasantries. They could hold you at one end and caress you at the other. You take a thick sip. The drink is sweeter this time. Too much Campari.

The song babbles to an end, the applause well met. The elderly bandleader thanks the room and you remove your cheek from your hand and clap gently.

As the band begins to pack away instruments, you turn your eye to the bassist’s gaze. They raise their brow. A question. You know the answer. But the subconscious mind is aware, and thoughts of home swell instantly. Him. The baby. Burden. Devotion. The bassist tilts their head to the backstage door. You contemplate the repercussions. You contemplate not caring. You nod back and down your drink, mouth fizzing.

Your body glides past the round tables with ease – unfulfilled appetite taking you closer. Yet despite the need, you falter. Though you hunger for it – deserve it, true betrayal isn’t your forte. You wrap yourself up and climb the stairs back to ground level, taking the gilt swing doors out into the bitter midnight.

He mentions the cigarettes and the alcohol when you make it home. He’s been waiting behind front door since you left, chewing his nails like a brute. His fingers are short. Porcine. Stubby.

You thirst for the bassist again.

Emily uses writing as an escape from reality and doesn't drink enough water. She can be found on Twitter @emily__harrison, and has had work published with Ellipsis Zine, Storgy, Soft Cartel, Retreat West and Riggwelter Press to name a few.

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