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Winter 2018/19

A Special Flash Fiction Section

Robert Scotellaro


You may experience wanting to use your father’s gold cufflinks, but do not have a shirt with the little cuff slits to accommodate them. You may find yourself wearing his severely starched white shirt (one of several his fifth and last wife sent you after he passed) to the new acting classes you are taking. Even when you are offering your kingdom up for a horse. Even when you are yelling, “Hey Stella!” into an imaginary, sweltering New Orleans night.


It’s been reported one may miss the smell of nail polish, from time to time. Think of her applying it. That little brush dipped in, dipped out. A shade called, Devil’s Sunburn Red. Transforming ordinary fingernails into five rubies in a setting as she lifts a glass of water to her lips.


You may recall your father’s use of the word “wiseacre” while you are watching a performance in class, massacring a scene that you know you could do better. How your father would say it when you got a phrase right on Wheel of Fortune well before half the letters were lighted up in that elegant manner by a young and classy Vanna White. How he told you, sotto voce, she was the only reason he watched. Then, that corny and indirectly praise-ready word again: “Wiseacre” when you figured out the next one. How warm it felt, like a freshly ironed shirt you put on quickly, before the heat has a chance to escape.


A heightened sensitivity to sound is less common, but possible. One of the actors might tell you with bluster and a straight face that he is a descendant of the devil. And when you stare at him as though he is a chin-high pile of horse shit, he might insist: “No, really. Not the Devil himself, but a minor one. I did a family tree search with this expert, and he narrowed it down to the foothills of Potenza. That’s in Italy.” His eyes were piercing, laser-darting. “Exorcisms run in my family.” Then his tight and earnest expression might suddenly come apart. “Ha-ha-ha… Had you, didn’t I?”

You may experience an augmenting, but un-acted-upon throat clutch and vise squeeze, followed by a fake laugh you’ve perfected. You might snap out of it, realizing you’ll be reading your part next after the break.


It is not uncommon to feel a variation of that “warm shirt” validating sensation when a lovely woman with purple lipstick tells you you’re brilliant and invites herself to your place to study lines. A few drinks later deciding clothes are extraneous, so you shed them and discover she is covered in tattoos. You might easily get lost in them. But it is also a “lost & found” and you grasp more and more elements of what have been found. Feel how smooth her skin is, even over that small mountain range, that scaly dragon’s tail… Find your breath again, afterward, as you share a joint (your first in many years). Maybe your first ever.

Other possible reactions may include: a keen sense that gravity has an “off” button. That laughing (honest laughing) is like riding a bike. That daylight can go on vacation, can return home again. That home can return home again—even to another location, and still be home. While studying lines together you might notice her nail polish bejeweling the page. Discover, you are both wiseacres in the making.

Robert Scotellaro has published widely in national and international books, journals and anthologies, including W.W. Norton's Flash Fiction International, The Best Small Fictions Anthology 2016 and 2017, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, New Flash Fiction Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and many others. He is the author of seven literary chapbooks, several books for children, and three flash story collections: Measuring the Distance (Blue Light Press, 2012), What We Know So Far, (winner of The 2015 Blue Light Book Award), and Bad Motel (Big Table Publishing, 2016). He was the recipient of Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. He has, along with James Thomas, edited the anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (W.W. Norton, 2018).




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