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During the summer of 2016 we’re bringing back our flash fiction prompt series, inviting authors to respond to three different picture prompts. You can read more about the series here. Round 2 submissions responded to the photo prompt found here.
Round 2 Finalist: “Broken Glass” by Anna Cabe
The light on the ground like fractals. Cobwebs strung across the corners. Dust mounds as big as Everest. If your mother saw this place, she’d imagine tetanus lurking in every rusty nail.
You ask, “Why do you stay here?”
I don’t say anything. There’s no reason for me to live in this crumbling warehouse, bought with the last of my savings. You think I’m licking my wounds, worrying them like a beat-down dog. You think that, after time enough getting my water from a wheezy faucet, lightbulbs in the ceiling far and wobbly, asbestos clogging my lungs, that I’ll return to the outside world. Rub the dirt off my face. Talk to the living, those still warm with new, elastic flesh.
To live in this place and do nothing with it. This warehouse, with exposed pipe and brick, concrete floors — you can dream of the TV crew coming in with pickaxes and hammers. “Tear it all down!” Build it anew. Make it chrome. Make it worth millions.
What if I told you I like the disorder? That I like living in entropy — the middle of a breakdown. I’d rather be the keeper of this place as it is, as it falls back into the earth from which it came — metal, wood, stone. I’ve lived in the world that shines, and it’s too bright for me.
This broken glass crunched beneath our feet. The glint of the moon off them, as it rises in the sky. I can see enough here. You don’t have to understand.
Anna Cabe is a MFA candidate in fiction at Indiana University and the web editor of the Indiana Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Toast, matchbook, Gingerbread House, Reservoir, Racialicious, Cease, Cows, and Alyss, among others. She was a 2015 Kore Press Short Fiction Award semifinalist and a finalist for the 2015 Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers. Follow Anna on Twitter @annablabs.