During the summer of 2017 we continued our annual Flash Fiction Contest Series, inviting authors to respond to three different picture prompts. You can read more about the series here. Round 2 submissions responded to our photo prompt with the following criteria: here.
Andrew dressed the first mannequin in a pair of white parachute pants and Loverboy t-shirt. He placed a frosted and feathered brunette wig on its plastic head. Two of his fingers brushed stray synthetic hairs from her forehead; a spritz of Aqua Net secured the interlopers. Her lips were painted cinnamon, her eyelashes a shade of funeral. He clasped a silver cross necklace on the back of its neck.
The second one was squeezed into a pair of ripped jeans and arctic wolf tank. He outlined a goatee on its chin, filled it in with glue and coffee grinds. Next came a pair of aviator glasses, gold rope, and a red bandana.
He moved the artificial lovers to the bedroom window, arranged them face to face, hands reaching out to each other. Another inch and they would be touching, but an inch might as well be 108 miles north. Fuck Cleveland, he thought. He lit two tealight candles, set them on the sill.
After a nap, he dropped his body into a lawn chair. His mind had a line in the water hoping a citrusy scent or lost conversation or rogue laugh would bite the bait. He took in the charcoal briquette sky, then unscrewed the cap of a wine cooler and swallowed its syrupy nostalgia.
His neighbor, Jerry, dashed around his front yard battling the invisible dark side. His green lightsaber sliced the air with a glowing frenzy. A stormtrooper and a fiberglass woman wearing dozens of bracelets and a tangerine half-shirt stared at him through a gap in the living room curtains.
Across the street, an elderly man in a letterman jacket sipped a Singapore Sling on his screened porch. His shoes shined brighter than the moon. Behind him, in the kitchen window, a blonde replica in a powder blue poodle skirt and black stilettos waved at him with a stiff hand hidden inside a cream leather glove.
Andrew survived on Someday Street, a nickname not shared by his ex-wife, estranged family, and exhausted former friends. He was surrounded by others similar to him, a band of broken time travelers lathered in the notion that what’s lost can be found again if your belief in magic was unbendable and child-like. They all thought perseverance would be the compass that guided them back to the beginning.
After he chewed the starry silence for a minute, he lifted his head up to the flickering bedroom glass, saw how close he was to Michelle. So close.
He slipped a cassette into the boombox. With his brain shifted into reverse, he punched the gas and drove to a place thirty years from here. Andrew decided to stay there for a while because, like the song booming, he was lovin’ every minute of it. The it being that provocative tumble into the wild beauty of 1985.
Chris Milam lives in the bucolic wasteland that is Hamilton, Ohio. His stories have appeared in WhiskeyPaper, The Airgonaut, Lost Balloon, Jellyfish Review, (b)OINK, Rabble Lit, and elsewhere.