The Golden Key Flash Fiction Open 2014 Honorable Mention, judged by Karin Tidbeck
I once held hands with a man as he drowned. He had cinderblocks chained to his ankles, his arms extended toward the surface of the lake, like a baby who waits for his mother to pick him up.
I watched as he was thrown into the water; I watched his murderers drive away. Then I dived in after him and clung to his reaching arms. I always wanted to know how it felt to float in reverse, to be irresistibly dragged to the bottom of the water.
The man’s eyes crinkled with relief when I gripped his forearms. He thought I was trying to save him.
I crinkled my eyes back at him, my body slack, as we journeyed together to the bottom of the lake, past trailing strands of weeds and particles of algae.
His eyes widened in panic when he realized I would not save him. A jet of bubbles burst from his nostrils.
Bad idea, I wanted to tell him; but I would conserve my own air.
The man clawed at my arms, attempting to use my limp, drifting body as a ladder to haul himself that much closer to the surface. I remained calm and allowed him to try. When his struggle ceased, I grew tired of floating to the bottom of this never-ending lake. I released my grip on the drowning man, and kicked off his shoulders to launch myself to the surface.
I did not look back to see that we were propelled in opposite directions, that, at least momentarily, I hastened his descent.
I did not hear the man nestle softly on the muddy bottom.
For all I know, the lake has no bottom, and the man has been floating ever since.
Lindsay Fowler predominantly writes flash fiction. When she writes longer stories, she takes everyone she knows (including herself) by surprise. Lindsay is a graduate of the MFA program in fiction at the University of Maryland.
The hidden thing(s) she would like to find: “Fascinating family stories that may have been lost; anything new and surprising (preferably not of the insect variety).”
Art — kAt Philbin is an artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She draws inspiration from fairy tales and personal mythologies to create her delicate illustrations with many, many tiny pen lines. See more of her artwork at www.katphilbin.com.
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