My flash fiction story forthcoming in a literary journal
I am delighted to share that one of my stories, a Flash Fiction submission titled The Woman on the Landing, has been accepted by december, a Literary Legacy Since 1958, to be published fall, 2018. Yes, the name of the magazine is lower case “december.” The story is only two pages in length and copied below if you’d like to read it.
THE WOMAN ON THE LANDING
A long time ago, the woman lived for awhile in Germany because her husband was a doctor in the Air Force stationed in Kaiserslautern. She and Joe resided in an apartment building for officers and their dependents on the third and last floor.
On the first floor lived a childless couple, Irene and Artie, sporting people who had gone often that winter to Berchtesgarten and Garmisch to ski. It is said that Hitler sometimes skied those slopes on holiday staying in the lovely old inns. It saddened Artie that the breathtaking grandeur of the great mountain slopes and carved wooden fireplaces of the inns had warmed such a man’s soul.
One afternoon when Joe came home from the Base hospital for lunch, he brought the woman horrifying news. Artie’s test plane had crashed that morning and Artie was dead. The woman was too distraught to sit with her husband at lunch and went into their bedroom to be alone. She had shared more than a year of gossip and complaints and recipes for German goose and recommendations for frugal European hotels and cheerful banter with Irene, whose engaging disposition relieved the general despair of being on the Base so far from home.
When Joe finished lunch, the woman walked him to the door and on to the staircase landing. They embraced, holding each other for several moments. The woman remained there on the landing for several minutes as her husband descended the stairs and then watched him through the staircase window as he walked to his car. While she was there, Irene’s door opened two floors below. The woman saw Irene step into the corridor to chat with her neighbor across the hall. The woman could hear the neighbor laughing in her doorway as Irene complained about the mess she had made of a meal the night before. She described her leather beef kabobs and charred wedges of onions and tomatoes falling into the coals. Irene was lively and funny. Later, the Base Commander would knock on her door and he would ask to be let in and he would inform her in the proper manner with the proper words that her husband had been killed. This is how it was done.
From the distance two flights below Irene seemed small, but she was a tall and slender woman, not pretty and no longer young. It had been a late marriage for Irene and Artie and it had lasted two years only. The woman standing on the landing knew that it had lasted two years only; Irene did not. The woman knew that tonight she would sleep alone; Irene did not.
Over the years, the image of the figure on the landing changed in the woman’s life to become not one figure but two: the one above and the one below; the figure seeing and the figure seen. She knows this is foreboding. A fear of what might come. The knowing yet not knowing.
The figure on the landing remains ominous but muted while the colors that surround the woman are brilliant, colors temporal as the crimson miracles of dawn and dusk. Urgency saturates the hues. She feels the colors to be vibrant in daylight, especially as, in time, she sees her children play, soaring high on a swing or chasing each other across the lawn, but more so in twilight when the woman feels the colors fading and resists.
She greets her husband when he comes home from his office and she has taken a job herself, part time. She rejoices each time she returns to her house to begin preparations for dinner and to await her family’s arrival.