Short Fiction ~ T.L. Sherwood
(Honourable mention, Strands International Flash Fiction Competition - 2)
I’d compose music on a piano if I could. Friends would stop by and I’d collect all the lined pages in a bundle, open the seat, shove them in, and while we visited, I’d sit on my masterpiece, holding it down, squashed in its tiny crypt. I’d take time to chat and catch up, not let my eyes go all squirrelly, glancing repeatedly at the clock as the morning wore into noon. They’d suggest lunch and by then I’d be hungry so we’d meet in a coffee shop where lots of pregnant women hovered over soy this and decaf that. Another friend would stop by our table and ask how it’s going. I’d say, “Well, you know, a composer’s life isn’t for everyone.” They’d say, “I hear you, man.” The commiserating would fade into small talk, and then, after a while, they’d leave and the first friend would treat because everyone knows that I’m a starving artist with something like six dollars left in my checking account. I’d return to my sticky, hot house because I left one window open, enough to fill the whole place with summer air. I’d go outside, mow the lawn while considering sharp notes and opaque motifs. The next day, I wouldn’t even glance at what I wrote the morning before because I’d fallen asleep ashamed of thinking I could be great enough to construct a sonata, let alone a masterful one, so I’d start another. Every day brings something new, jotted down, tucked away, forgotten. When I ran out of room in the piano seat, I’d buy a footlocker like I’ve seen my friend’s kid haul off to college, all black and metal. I’d fill that one, and another, and stack them in the spare room because even though it’s made up for my logical, going-to-be-an-accountant-to-make-some-money-dammit daughter, she rarely visits anymore, plus she hasn’t spent the night in years. Maybe I’d die placing one trunk on top of another or from a heart attack or by falling chest first onto a metronome, then every note I ever wrote would be bequeathed to her. I imagine her opening the trunks and it would be like reading my journal. All of my love for her made into music could burst through her heart and she’d know how much I adored her, but I didn’t take piano lessons and she was aborted before she was really even a girl so I listen to classical music while I write all day waiting for friends to drop by instead.
T. L. Sherwood adores flash fiction but abhors flash flooding. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Bending Genres, New World Writing, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, On the Premises, and The Bacopa Review. She blogs twice a month about her creekside reflections at http://tlsherwood.wordpress.com and she's currently working on a novel.