An attempt at Flash Fiction

by Peter on April 28, 2014 · 0 comments

Got tired of writing my book and decided to try my hand at some flash fiction.


He sat unmoving, staring at himself in the mirror. The rows of lightbulbs shone brightly, trying their hardest to penetrate every trough and furrow of his vibrant face. Instead they hid him. In their light, he was just a face, the soul a shadow in the brightness. He sighed. A long terrible sigh that carried him far – from his family sitting at the dinner table, through the garage he had been meaning to clean for over an year, to the deathbed of his father. Then he started, the actions coming to him unthinkingly from long years of practice. With his right hand, he picked up the cotton ball, with his left the rubbing alcohol. One to the other. He brought the soaked cotton ball up to his face and he paused. Then, tenderly, with every smear, he started to erase himself from his world.

Bozo the spectacular was famous in 21 towns stretching from Cleveland to Knoxville and from Happy Valley to St. Louis. He could have travelled farther. He could have gone to the big city, become world famous, made a lot of money. People asked him why he didn’t do it and he said he didn’t care. Truth was he liked his family too much. If he couldn’t get to where he wanted to go in 6 hours in his car, it was too far for him. But that was ok for Bozo, he still had plenty of gigs and he got to spend time with his family. Sometimes, alone in his dressing room, he tried to think he was going out at Madison Square. Families filled to the rafter cheering him on. The face-paint came off faster on those days. Today, however, was not such a day.

Swipe. Swipe. Dip. The colors came running off, making little rivulets down his cheeks, bleeding ever so slightly onto his fingers. He moved the ball carefully, making sure to get every single pigment of color from his face. Every show was important and it wouldn’t be professional to do a sloppy job. What was it that Blinky had told him today? “Daddy, you are the most boring man I know.” Yes that was what he had said. He was proud of his little boy. Swipe. Swipe. Dip.

There. Spotless. He looked at himself in the mirror. A new person. A new life. He turned his head left, then right, seeing nothing. A lifetime of practice. He plucked the orange ball from his nose and put it on the table. His hand slid down to his feet taking off one shoe, then the next. He stuck them under his chair, their red bulbous heads barely fitting under the legs. He reached behind himself past the ruffles at the next and felt around for the zipper. Too much starch in these dresses. He should talk to Dotty about it. Bless her heart she wanted him to look good even though she knew he was just going to take this off the moment he got here. He found it, and tugged it down, first from the top and then switching halfway through to pull from the bottom. He stepped out of it gingerly, making sure not to step on his bottoms, then folded them off carefully, polka dot side up, ruffles sticking out proudly, and put it to one side.

Who was he now? He stared into the mirror again. A stranger. A nobody. An in-betweener. Neither here nor there. “5 minutes,” yelled an yellow face suddenly appearing through the door. Those words energized him. He moved to the costume rack, choosing a grey suit, white shirt and a blue and yellow striped tie. A classic look. Argyle socks, the patterns staid to the point of mocking, he slid over his feet followed by the polished wing tips. Then he steadied himself, moving through his breathing exercises, calming himself down. A lifetime of practice.

“1 minute,” yelled the yellow face again appearing briefly around the corner. He strode purposefully towards the stage. The announcer’s voice echoed faintly through the narrow hallway… “Now presenting for your monotony, the most mundane, the lugubrious, Mr. John Smith!”


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