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Flash Fiction

At Water’s Edge – Complications During Spring Break – Sister Margarita

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At Water’s Edge

Once, when the boy barely came to the man’s knees, when the man had to tilt to reach the boy’s tiny, soft hand, he would gently enfold the boy’s fingers into his own and guide him to the water’s edge.

Now, after years of absence and interference – separated as other’s conflicts became theirs – neglect, no word, then no words exchanged as familial berms became hills and hills mountains. With only two weeks from another separation – by the boy from his family, the man from his new family – they were absorbed by memories and changes.

It was their final time, after many times. The cool, late afternoon ocean breeze cooled their faces as they stood in the same spot near the same Cyprus tree – now supported by metal. The man, escaping his past, now bent, slow, sought merely comfort, warmth, and family. He clung to the boy and listened as the young man explained his discoveries and guessed about his future.

Reeling toward them was blue-gray water capped with white peaks. Lapping water with foam at the crest rose onto the beach higher and higher as the afternoon lengthened. Their shallow footprints grew deeper and deeper, then were buried in mounds of moist sand the closer they inched toward the coastline. Ahead a parallel line divided water from sky.

Fourteen years earlier, at this very spot, the man wore gray and the boy wore youthful colors of yellow and blue. Today, the boy in gray and the man in dark blue, his pants rolled up to avoid lapping tides on this immaculately clear day.

On this day, their final day, the boy, taller than the man, tilted slightly and reached for his grandfather’s hand. The old man didn’t notice at first, then moments later felt the boy’s large hand engulf his own and enfold his fingers. The boy gently guided him to their exact spot.

The boy so averse to contact from others, so unique in his abilities, so distant from many others, leaned toward the old man, brought him closer, then reached around to hug the man who had been with him all this time at water’s edge.


Complications During Spring Break

That schlump. That teller of tales. Rhymer of rhymes. Creator of worlds. He stole my life. You have to understand it from my viewpoint.

All I did was return home on spring break. To rest awhile. To return for a moment to be the center of her life. To have my laundry done. But as soon as I returned I was slapped by the news: He’s dead. The man who scared the hell out of me every day of my life is now dead. Killed by the man my mother married.

“Calm down.”

“You don’t understand.”

“It’s complicated.”

Damn right it’s complicated. And illegal. And immoral. And …

Re-read those paragraphs, then put yourself in my position. You have to understand it from my viewpoint. I was nineteen years old. Led a sheltered life. A momma’s boy. Now dad’s dead – killed. And she remarried his killer. And I’m left alone and told to get over it – find closure.

I endured the blathering of my girlfriend’s father then became provocative with folks at the castle and arranged a play. I just tried to set things up to kill the SOB, but a few others got caught in the cross-fire – the sword play. What do you folks call it now? Friendly fire? As a result more people died than should have. Including my mother. It’s complicated.

Fortinbras killed by my dad who was killed by Claudius who was killed by me who killed a few others. It’s not that complicated.


Sister Margarita


On his first day at school, he said,

  • No, Sister.
  • Yes, Sister.

Within weeks,

  • No, str.
  • Yes, str.

Within a few months,

Which summarized his early education except for the one still called by her full name.


Thomas Elson (USA)

Thomas Elson’s short stories, poetry and flash fiction have been published in numerous venues such as Calliope, Pinyon, Lunaris, New Ulster, Lampeter, Selkie, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Adelaide Literary Magazine. He divides his time between Northern California and Western Kansas.

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