Nancy Chenier

Nancy Chenier 2Nancy is the winner of Vol 2 – 38Vol 3 – 9, Vol 3-20, Vol 3 – 35 and Vol 3-49. She floundered her way to flash after trying to parent a rowdy squid while stubbornly clinging to her novel-length WIP (she’s convinced J.K. Rowling must have spawned a tamer species, otherwise Harry Potter never would have seen the light of day). Her recent work appears in various anthologies: Five Hundred Words of MagicFlash Dogs, vol. 1 and Crossed Genres.

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Fallout from various flash contests can be read on her blog at Spec-fic Motley. She can also be found on Twitter. Read her first #SixtySeconds interview here and her second here. And because those were super short, we happily direct you to her third one here.

***

Amoeboid Eremite’s Lament

God is Unity
Nature corrupts with its dyads
Eschew division.

Purity is in the waters, they say,
Yet my long liquid hermitage
Hasn’t cleansed my thoughts

They say, too, the urge gets easier to resist,

Deceivers!

The need to populate my loneliness
Shudders through my cytoplasm.

The mocking moons in their dual dance
Ooze across the sky.
The psalmody of our One daystar cannot mute
The taunting of wanton satellites.

Divide, they chide, divide

Under light and darkness, I strain
against that which would desecrate
my singular celibacy.

Quivering prophase
–Such lust cleaves our devotion!–
My mitotic sin.

***

Vol 3 – 35: Causality

If you break a mirror…

I was seven when the car crash happened. I remember my splintered reflection in the rearview mirror. Mom died on the way to the hospital. “The car wouldn’t stop,” she rasped through the oxygen mask. I spent the next seven years bouncing around foster homes.

If a black cat crosses your path…

For my thirteenth birthday, a gift-wrapped box addressed to me appeared on the doorstep. From under the lid, a charcoal face with green eyes mewed at me. My first real present in six years.

Two months, I kept her hidden in the shed. When Ben discovered her, he tossed her into the neighbor’s swimming pool and head-locked me until the splashing stopped.
That night I hit Ben’s sleeping head with a baseball bat. Welcome to juvie.

If you walk under a ladder…

At eighteen, I got busted on a B&E. The house was being remodeled. Even with a four-leaf clover in each shoe, I should’ve been more leery around scaffolding. Three hundred pounds of heroic security guard dropped right on my head.

Then, I got a letter in prison:

Dear Daniel,
We musta just missed each other.
Things never worked out between me and your mom, but I made a vow to help you out. I thought a pet might be a catalyst (get it?) to turn things around. Sorry it didn’t work out.
Love Dad
PS. You weren’t supposed to be in the car.

I folded the letter along its creases, trashed the clovers, and started work on a voodoo doll.

Vol 3 – 20: Keeping It All Together

Of course I remember you. Like wind blasting my face. I death-gripped the handlebars, danger crawling up my knees into my stomach. Maddy’s shrieking laughter from the crossbar. Don’t fall! Don’t fall! The funny mouthwash smell that rolled off your panting breaths.

Of course I remember you. Like sugar dissolving in my mouth. The cereals you doled out for dinner. The kind Mother never let us eat. The cotton-candy carnival hours for Maddy and I while you disappeared into the raucous laughter of the pub. The delirious slyness of shared secrets—a relief from the order that mother cultivated like her orchid garden.

Of course Maddy forgives you, flings herself into your arms as if she’s still that ten-year-old you left behind. She thrust all the pain on Mother. I did too, until I stumbled upon Mother soddening the lace tablecloth with a sorrow she’d never let us see, a secret more terrifying than wobbling on a drunk’s handlebars. Five-year-old hands can’t salvage a wrecked heart.

So forgive me if I don’t fling myself into your arms. Who’s Maddy going to blame when it’s down to her and you? Even at fifty, I don’t think I can pick up after another of your wreckages.

***

Vol 3-9: Ripple Effect

Whenever rain spatters the Paradise parking lot, she rises from the pavement like petrichor. Her form shivers like the reflection in a wind-ruffled puddle. What is a ghost but a dire event that ripples across the pool of time?

Five years, I’ve watched shadows replay Cecilia’s last moments against curdled clouds. I know the tragic song by heart: her giggles, the staccato of her stamping feet, the squeal of tires, her mother’s ragged cry, the fade in and out of sirens.

Here she comes now, a carousel whirl of colors. Red ladybug boots, yellow bumblebee raincoat, green umbrella. She stomps and hops and crows the magnificence of her splashes. The driver’s too busy balancing an apple pastry on his latte thermos to notice.

I leap forward waving my arms. It startles her from her puddles. There’s a flash of recognition, but my snarling face chases her between the parked vehicles. Away from harm.

The squeal and thud cuts my pantomime short. Her mother screams.

I’d witnessed her death since before she was born, and hell if I’d just let it happen. The violent death of a child ripples both ways across the pool of time. The death of an old codger like me won’t – not even if he’s her grandfather.

***

 Vol 2-38: Mission Control

Beads of sweat dripped onto his console as Marvin hit enter. His glasses fogged, but he could still make out the erect figure of Meuller, the director, facing him across the floor. He gave a nod, barely more than a blink.

Ten seconds later, the eggheads went into a tizzy.

“They’re off course!”

“What the hell?”

“Can we fix it?”

“Not before entry!”

Marvin hunched over his console, his quaking hands going through the motions.

It was not a program error.

Though who would suspect otherwise on Gemini’s mission, already fraught with malfunction?

“Woohoo, Cooper!”

Marvin’s heart stopped. A cheer rose from the control stations.

Marvin gaped at the ashen expression of the director.

Cooper “corrected” the course from aboard. The capsule would land safely—along with its secret malignancy.

Marvin’s toddler would be sleeping, wife awake, waiting for him. “Can I go home?” he piped.

To the bewilderment of Houston’s personnel, the director tightened his jaw and nodded.

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