Fresh, hot flash fiction up for your weekend reading pleasure.
Welcome to my world.
The Cheat Sheet
by Lis Anna
The boy who turned his light out with a clear, odorless gas slapped me in the face two days before our final exam. When the pink princess phone rang I sprang joyfully upward. It was not him calling, not he, my best friend from chemistry 101 where we sat side by side so close, our thighs touched. It was there we first learned about the existence of a molecule characterized by a bond that burned with a blue flame.
Bonds that burned with blue flames were pure poetry.
In a matter of seconds, a symphony of suicide repeated over and over in my brain
as a girl from school told me to sit down and listen. All I could think about was how the only part
of him left was the cheat sheet he handed me yesterday to help me graduate because our chemistry was stronger and I’d spent two semesters more into him than the class. Suddenly I wanted every moment I'd ever spent with him back. He'd embarked on a journey without me. Just him, all alone trudging through the blue, tasteless gas while I was on a princess phone reaching for the cheat sheet because it was proof
he existed. I wanted the answers and the passing grade only if he lived.
I would study all night or rage against god if he kept his piece of paper and returned, coughing soot from his lungs apologizing for his unimaginable mistake.
I wanted to go back and make him promise, swear, cross his heart and hope to…
I saw what it meant. The cheat sheet, the watch, the copy of Chicago Poems, the silver bracelet from Istanbul. He gave me his favorite book in the world, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Cleaning house, he said.
It was a lie. Really, his sidewalk was ending. And so I was on the phone with a girl I barely knew crying. She told me the viewing was tomorrow at noon and hung up. He would get an incomplete in our chemistry.
That was the last call I never got from him.
The only dead body I’d ever seen laid waxy and unreal in a coffin wearing the most hideous tie
to greet the afterlife in clothes picked out by his mother. The same mother who disowned him
three days earlier for liking boys too much.
I had to know more so I asked his brother, the narcissist, who reluctantly told me about the black tubing
taped to the motorcycle tailpipe, how it snaked insidiously through the window of the car. How he was found, eyes closed in the front seat, darkness idling dangerously. I imagined he was napping at the rest stop like when we drove to Graceland to touch Elvis’ shag carpet.
Into the deep sleep of the blue flame the only dead body I’d ever seen went without me.
No longer would we pass class hand in hand, sneaking funny glances, cheating everything together
because suddenly I was at his coffin reading answers over and over on a tiny piece of paper.
A mantra of goodbye, giving me all of the answers on the way out. I fell in love with his handwriting, the twists and turns of a carefully thought out deception.
I wanted to leap from the coffin and yell, "I have all the answers, I have all the answers."
But my body was heavy from lack of sleep, pulled to a dark and humming earth, unlike him
who rose upward in a clear, odorless gas.
Copyright 2013 Lis Anna
All Rights Reserved.