ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Flash Fiction by Rich Ives


The Night Before Something Fluttery, Something Descending

I could see that I was attracted to neglect, so I slept with it, several days in a row, but tonight I can see that there is something between us. I think it might be me.

There’s a swallow song in the trees, so I think a swallow is singing it, but the song is singing the swallow, so I listen. It’s all that I can do that won’t fly away.

A black bird says now we’re not thinking ears, and we’re not topical or raging but posted into welcome and wide away. If we don’t want to insert reason, we simply don’t, but there’s a reason for that.

My clothing participates in the shelter I create from where I am at the moment. My skin keeps up. My thinking is available to my thoughts. I seem to be mostly arriving. I seem to be in my possible results. If I’m not really here yet, it’s because I’m trying to get enough attention paid to details. They make what I’m becoming right again.

In the parable of my dove, mistakes and wisdom remain proportionate, and the child of Sorrow goes nameless. A man well-skilled in the greasier emotional arts, cloudy with a threat of roofing and cold southerly thinking, becomes an instance of distant trees, a pondling rush of rising flutter and snare, a fondling.

The other song is falling now, the one that wears what it’s missing like a ribbon, only with a little hummingbird whistle whispering in its feathers. Why do these fortunes always fly away with us? Why do they arrive at us without intention?

Take these donations from your reasoning and let them fall. There’s a cheek of ice relenting, and we just don’t need to invite this into offering, which is a different kind of generosity, but still a generosity. Like this my human could find me. My human could know I was unlike, and in this way, more human. My animal could push me out, the way animals do when they are done with needing, but you can’t always give away everything you have.



The Potential Damage

I found a bullet on my floor. I didn’t remember having a gun. I found it amusing to suspect my floor of arranging it, but I didn’t know I had any friends with a gun. I gave the suspect bullet to my wife’s ugly boss. He hadn’t ever been to my house, and he shot a target with the bullet from my floor.

My floor was protected by Mop ‘n Glo, but I was not protected by my floor, and I fell and hurt my leg, which kicked at the offending floor. I couldn’t control it, but the floor didn’t seem to suffer although I doubt it learned its lesson.

I’m thinking about getting some shoes with a better barrier between me and my floor, but I used to enjoy crossing my floor naked, and I certainly wouldn’t want to find another bullet with my pants off.

Now I see myself falling on a bullet even with protected shoes, and I’m afraid it won’t be my leg that gets hurt this time, so I purchase a metal detector and scour my house and my yard, and still I feel like the possibility of violence could do as much damage as the violence might. I think about it enough to hurt myself.



The Satisfaction of My Obligations

I was supposed to notify the families of the probable deaths and ease them into gradual detachment from out-payments with a small lump sum and every little bit of sympathy I could muster (very little) and offer to handle the arrangements in exchange for the return of the small lump sum if they wished to mark their loved one’s place (which his body could not, considering the manner of his probable death) among those who had sacrificed their lives previously in similar devotion, but one day there was a mistake, and it was my family I had to notify, and I’d been doing it so long I had no one left except a cousin, who didn’t recognize me and refused my services, as if I didn’t exist, and the cousin didn’t hire anyone else either and laughed when I meekly asked to attend the ceremony, which never took place, so I kept on working, underground, which seemed quite familiar, and built up enough credit to handle everything, and I continued to remain right where I’d been all along, and consequently needed to notify more families of additional ceremonies, the ones I now so thoroughly enjoy, even though they involve aspects of myself I no longer share with myself.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.

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