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Flash Fiction - Catherine Horner '22

“Just don’t look over the railing.”

Just. As though you could pare down the psyche. As though you could erase all doubt with some upward tilt around the jugular. Heavens! If I avert my eyes from the railing, what I may imagine beneath me! I could quite paint a picture of Hell. Snakes and the mane of Medusa. Let there at least exist a bottom, whether lethal jaws or folds of grass. Because if an abyss stirs on the other side of this precipice, then I may plunge out of fear. Shoot me now! Shoot me now! I cannot bear this purgatory. I would rather face death than this continual pain. May I fall into the inviting arms of Death, sickly and dear to my quaking pulse. Take this pulse! I cannot bear the sound. Spare me from the inescapable toll! I would fall to my knees and beg to God that he remove me, take me wherever, but in my hysteria, I would surely lose step and plummet if I tried to find the floor. The railing rattles in the wake of emotion; what architectural folly to believe my will, my fear would not overcome its feeble structure. Look, I can see the screws shaking. One just burst from its place.

“Just don’t look over the railing.”

I hear you speak a second time, and the words hit my ears with garrish reproach. Well, good! You believe I cannot hear you. You believe my ears are closed. If you just repeat the sentence, the meaning will penetrate. A bullet burrows into the flesh with gradual force, of course. Fool. If you really wished to convey some message to me, find a more productive weapon. Find an actual bullet. 

I am man and small and whispering to an infant inside of me. I feel its raw cry in my throat, its red veined fists in my stomach. The infant already knows the struggles of survival. He knows the sound of an alarm. Bringing, bringing. The infant needs something, desperately, miserably. His cheeks swell with fright, and he reaches his arms outward in submission and plea. 


“Save him! Save him!” I sob. I feel your arm encircle my waist. The railing splits and cracks into dust, and my perch splits and cracks. There, I fall into the converging darkness.

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