Red Breath


Red Breath

These words are bouncing off my ribs, reverberating beneath my skin.

It’s all of the lies and the clinging scent of him. The days and nights we spent laughing at the unseen, hidden in margins and bindings. Chaotic poetry they read, we breathed.

“Beatles or Elvis?” he asked.


“No, come on. You have to answer.”

“I don’t like boxes. I don’t want to be confined. I’m an out-of-the-box dweller in sepia shades.”

A word affair.

Lovers of books.

“We’re the same kind of different,” he once said.
Readers of unwritten, between the lines, and from lips to eyes we met and kissed.

An ephemeral moment has all come to this. A Christmas without him and syllables in varying shades of arrest. You can’t un-think all the thoughts, and you can’t un-live all the life. And there is no little man in a red suit to deliver any jolly ever since he drove off.

© Grace Black

159 words

 Fiction written for Flash! Friday Micro Fiction Contest

This entry received an Third Runner Up and here is what the judges, Tamara Shoemaker and Mark A. King, had to say:

MK: This had a wonderful opening, such a great use of words to set the scene. I liked the Beatle vs Elvis comparison and adored the phrase “dweller in sepia shades” (not only beautiful, but so descriptive). There were a couple of stories that reminded us that Christmas can be a difficult time for some and this one stood out due to the beautiful language and authentic voice. A well deserved placing.

TS: Oh, the imagery in this one gives me shivers! There’s something about the phrases that twist just a little off the normal pattern that catches and holds my attention. I loved the literary theme woven throughout, “…hidden in margins and bindings.” “A word affair.” “Readers of unwritten, between the lines…”

The relationship in this piece plays out like lyrical poetry, the give and take of tone and pitch matching the woven tapestry of this couple’s story. It deepens all through the piece up until that final paragraph where it halts in “varying shades of arrest.”

The heartbreak of the line: “You can’t un-think all the thoughts, and you can’t un-live all the life” is all the more crushing after the gorgeous build-up. I love this. Exquisitely done.

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