Leigh Green

A stroke took half of me. The “big one” lurks, waiting to take me out.

I need to exit first. To leave this treacherous flesh on my terms.

I’ll shift to silicone. So many do now. An intact mind can jump ship.
“Can I convert?” I ask her, my left jowl pulling me into something grotesque. In silicone I’ll be faceless.

Shaking her head, she holds her round womb. My granddaughter grows inside.

To cheat the energy force I cheat them.

And so I’ll merge, vanishing unto myself. One day soon.

I feel a tear crawling down my right cheek.

(round 2 story, 100-word Flash Fiction, NYC Midnight 2022. Prompt: sci-fi about asking permission using “merge”)

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Hand in hand, they entered the shadowy copse of pines. Russet needles underfoot kept their secrets as they walked, lured by the ancient yew.

“My name!” the girl called, spotting “C-O-R” on its wrinkly trunk.

Today they would carve the “A.”

Her mother winced as she split the tree’s skin, finishing the name of the child she bore — an infant daughter who would not cry, who never roused to meet her.

“Cora,” she whispered. The little girl blinked, then vanished.

She’d find her again tomorrow, her beloved apparition, and show her the yew’s fresh scar.

(qualifying story for round 1, 100-word Flash Fiction NYC Midnight 2022)

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Gretel didn’t want more friends. The ones she had kept dying.

Philip from bingo and Judith from tea and Simone from across the hall: gone.

Angelic memories make poor company.

She waited, troubled, in this purgatorial home. For what, she did not know. She offered quips to the nurses who laughed with bright smiles of a different generation and then went home. She offered seed to the birds who flew near and away again like lightning’s flash.

Then Walter arrived, and like two dying stars they shared a glow that would not last but warmed her days nonetheless.

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He envied the smile that filled her face as she danced across the wooden stage. Their father had slapped it from him long ago, for the face of a man should not wear something so revealing.

It only dared trespass in the shadows where he stood watching her body spin, her fingers fluttering like moths and her shoulders thrown back in grandeur as she danced. He watched, a boy with control, dense and heavy. His face like a machete wielded force with a power inverse to hers. But for a moment it gleamed in the sunlight she cast his way.

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Apprehension lodged in her chest like a brick as she rode the crowded train past backyards exposed grotesquely like she felt.
He watched, she sensed, from a seat behind her, vague.
“He watches me,” she’d told her boyfriend.
“I’d watch you too. You’re a fox.”
But she felt more like a rabbit…

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“Perfect.” Wouldn’t that be nice?

Small. Smaller. Gone. There — you’ve got it.

A generation of girls bent over toilets, disappearing. Betraying bodies made imperfect by a million tiny comments that stuck like knives.

They’re healing now, in case anyone cares.

They’ll raise a million unapologetic girls and forgive a million sick mothers.

For words, like arsenic, won’t poison their daughters. They’ll protect their young with a vigilance borne of self-destruction. They’ll blow up invisibility’s pedestal. They’ll hunt the scorn that haunts their looking glass even now.

And the millions next might enjoy a peace that escaped them.

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She glanced around the conference table. The company’s esteemed C-suites buzzed through their year-end agenda. As Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Specialist, she’d be up next. They wanted her reassurance the program was a success, the cost justified, maybe even some congratulations.

That year she’d overseen a ho-hum recruitment effort and two compulsory e-trainings before the DEI budget dried up. But the metrics were slippery. A few positive numbers and a smile would grant her another year making more than she’d ever earned.

“April, how was the DEI Program this year?”

“Let me show you,” she said, a nausea rising up.

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“Just relax,” her husband would say. “I’ve only had a couple.”

“Just relax. They won’t stay long.”

“Just relax. That’s months away.”

“Just relax. He knows what he’s doing.”

She quieted herself and set up camp in the wrong. The worry wart, the nag, the pessimist. They made mistakes together…

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Lola set up her lemonade stand on a sunny Saturday.

She sold lemonade of unrivaled quality, having tested recipes all week. She created a big sign that read: “LEMONADE 50 CENTS.” No fluff.

Sure enough, cars and joggers slowed to a stop. They praised her lemonade’s flavor, its balance, and…

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