October 9, 2023

in blowg

this is flash fiction that i wrote in 2018 was first published in Desert Writers Guild anthology [2022] and now i’m resharing it here. i changed a few details (a passive sentence that was bugging me and character names i felt didn’t fit anymore) but it’s pretty much the same. it’s just supposed to be simple, maybe a prequel to ‘when elliot let go‘ that i wrote in 2012. that’s all the context i wanna give it. enjoy.



Wind snatched at the doors of the church and rocked the church bell with a merciless rhythmic clang. With the last wince of the evening light, the crowd came filing in and the priest closed the doors behind them. Silence rang out like a wave. The Thompson children found their way to the middle-front of the pews and the three of them took their seats.

            ‘I’m bored,’ said Lil Bobby. ‘I want candy.’

            ‘You can’t have candy—you’re in church,’ Elliot said. He was much older than Lil Bobby. He turned to Grace, the middle child. ‘Mama will be here soon, we just need to wait for her.’

            ‘I feel like everyone is watching us,’ Grace tried to whisper, but she wasn’t very experienced with subtly. Those sitting around them turned, some pointed and whispered (successfully.)

            ‘No one is watching us.’ Elliot was kicking the seat in front of him and looking at the ceiling where the white-plastered brick was stained a sooty grey from decades of candle smoke. Then Elliot was dragging Lil Bobby up off the floor or trying to. ‘Get up,’ he hissed. He was sitting on a stack of Bibles.

            ‘Someone’s clipped their toenails here,’ Lil Bobby wrinkled his nose. Elliot saw tiny crescent moons gently resting on the fading once-red carpet. It was true.

            ‘Well, don’t play down there then,’ Elliot said. But Lil Bobby didn’t listen.

            ‘Can’t we wait outside?’ Grace whined. Again, everyone could hear her.

            ‘In the storm? Don’t you want to be here?’

            ‘Never mind, Elliot.’

            ‘You seem panicked. Are you panicked?’

            ‘I’m fine.’

            ‘You just asked to go outside.’

            ‘I’m just feeling hot. Really hot.’

            ‘Mama will be here in just one minute. Can’t you wait?’

            Lil Bobby found a glass coke bottle and when he tried to drink what was left, Elliot snatched it from her and it fell, rolling beneath every pew with a loud rolling rattle. Lil Bobby started to sob. If everyone in the church hadn’t been looking at the Thompson children, they were now. Grace started to cry, too, not quietly.

            Finally, the door swung open, the howl of the storm returning momentarily. Mother came in and Lil Bobby reached out his arms, wiggling his hands until she picked him up. She looked at Grace and Elliot and nodded in approval.

            ‘Have you seen Grandpa yet?’

            All of them shook their heads no.

            ‘Do you want to see him now?’

            After a pause, all of them slowly shook their heads yes. Lil Bobby and Grace and Elliot went up the aisle, walking to the front of the church past a sea of staring eyes, but the children didn’t look back at the spinsters and lemon-faced old men, they just stared down at the ground until they reached the casket and looked in and all of them were silent.

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