Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.
The theme is Lovelies on the Beach.
Soup by Susan Tepper
Mrs. Sensor was appalled by what she saw on Copacabana Beach. She’d spent her life savings on this trip. All around her, lying on towels, strolling toward the surf, playing games where things get tossed, were the naked, or near-naked of both sexes.
How can this be? she thought; wishing she’d stayed put in her tiny hamlet town in upper New England— a place where propriety still had a place! It was bad enough that she couldn’t turn on the television without people practically fornicating in the commercials! One commercial for soup had shown a couple on a bed locked in the throes of passion.
Mrs. Sensor tried making sense out of soup and passion. What could possibly happen in a bowl of soup that might end in fornication? She had eaten thousands of bowls of soup in her adult lifetime, soup from cans and soup homemade.
She pulled her sun-visor out of her beach bag and positioned it on her head. The sun on Copacabana Beach relentless as the bodies. Never once could she recall a bowl of soup having any affect other than temporarily warming her insides.
I am clueless about the world, she thought. Michael was right.
Trying to avert her eyes from the endless parade of tanned oiled bodies in such close proximity to where she sat on her hotel towel, she quickly dismissed Michael from her mind.
He’d been a mean sort of person, a bruiser; what did he know?
Susan Tepper is the author of “Deer & Other Stories” (Wilderness House Press, 2009) and the poetry chapbook “Blue Edge.” Over 100 of her stories and poems have been published in journals worldwide. Susan had been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize. She curates the reading series FIZZ at KGB Bar in NYC, and is Assistant Editor of Istanbul Literary Review. You can find her online at www.susantepper.com.
Daniela by Beate Sigriddaughter
It was summer. The flavor of Italy was lemon sherbet. She was fifteen, I was thirteen, and both of us were beautiful.
I don’t remember how we met, probably because of a smile. Her family stayed at the opposite end of the camp ground from mine. She only spoke Italian and a few words of French. I only spoke German and a little English. Still, I learned her name, Daniela, and she learned mine.
Each day we walked together on the beach, bent over pretty shells and pebbles and scuttling crabs, murmuring in our languages we couldn’t understand. We also drew pictures in the sand and knew all we needed to know.
She liked braiding my hair. Her own was long and blond, and her eyes were dark brown. She had tiny freckles scattered on her nose.
One night she went out dancing with her Italian teenage friends. I wanted to go, but my parents said I was too young. She stopped by our tent so that I could admire her white dress.
The morning my family left, she came early with three daisies and a smile. I also smiled. Nothing could be saved into the future, not even the logic of shared phrases. I only learned one word of her language that year: “amica.” I could have learned more. It wasn’t necessary. When I think of her I feel as though my eyes are filled with sun.
Beate Sigriddaughter loves roller coasters, seals, foxes, and wild roses. She has published 2 novels, 1 novella, and prose and poetry in many print and online magazines. She has also established the Glass Woman Prize to honor passionate women’s voices.
Lovelies on the Beach by Darryl Price
or rolling out of the sea’s
open palms like little sleepy diamonds
they all look the same, some
different colors,some different sizes, but
the more you look at them
they seem to differentiate. More and
more come in all the time
and by then one can’t help
but start to feel a sense
of lonely loss for them, half
buried in the sand like remnants
of another civilization beyond the waves.
Darryl Price was born in Kentucky and educated at Thomas More College. A founding member of Jack Roth’s Yellow Pages Poets, he has published dozens of chapbooks, including a dual chapbook with Jennifer Bosveld, founder of Pudding House (the largest literary small press in America), and had poems in journals including The Bitter Oleander, Cornfield Review, Allegheny Poetry, Wind, Out of Sight, Paper Radio, The West Conscious Review, Pudding, Metazen, Cap City Poets, Doing It, Prick of the Spindle, Olentangy Review, Fourpaperletters, LITSNACK and the Green Fuse.
Love Lies on the Beach by cubehermit
As soon as she says it, we both know what it is, what it means, what it could mean.
We eat our sandy grapes in a cautious, wind-swept silence. Crunching down on the sand between my teeth with the grape juice squirting all up inside my mouth feels tragic. The sand tastes salty, like the weeping earth, against the sweet fruit.
I look into her face, a face that just hours before I held in my hands and kissed all over, still unsure. I see the solemn secret eyes that I have loved and feel a weight descend into my bones. Why did she do it? Am I at fault? Was I enough for her? How did I fail her?
I look again and see all the glorious laughter, all the sorrows, all the passion in that face, and betrayal seeps into my heart, that mixture of sorrow and rage. I feel that feeling as it begins tearing me apart from the inside, ripping all the pictures down from the walls of my mind like a rock star’s drug-fueled rampage.
Suddenly the wind feels cold and the sand I’m sitting on hard and I feel disgusted to be so close to her, to be so used by her. I know this is the end, at least the beginning of the end, this lie she told me this day on this beach
Cubehermit is master of her 4×5 foot domain. Just as you do not mess with Texas, don’t mess with the cube. You can see more of cubehermit’s work at her website, Corporate Cog Poetry.
Coastal Living by Bernard Heise
Aware of the significance of school ranking for real estate professionals, Tony developed his Beach Flesh Index© as an investment tool to rank community beaches. He quickly gained subscribers, but the project was difficult. The index capitalized on American obsessions about weight and youth. But a proper ranking meant considering not merely the presence of lean but also the absence of fat. What good was a beach graced by a few lithe lovelies if they were lost among mountains of quivering thighs? Youth was also a problem. The ideal body was between, say, eighteen and twenty-eight. Age naturally brought values down – not much for a thirty-five year old, but a significant geriatric presence was devastating (the curve was exponential). Children, too, proved bothersome. Clearly, one could not simply balance a bevy of twelve-year olds against a cadre of codgers – this would produce a pedophilic fantasy incongruent with the values of the American homeowner. But what really distressed Tony were the proactive measures of his subscribing real estate associations. Already they were pressing for ordinances requiring that all beach visitors with a Body Mass Index over 25 be fully clothed, or making beach access contingent upon the presentation of an annual pass that could only be obtained by submitting medical reports and birth certificates. Even worse, they were hiring thugs to breakup boardwalks to discourage access by people with disabilities. But Tony shrugged off such concerns, for the money was good and he was building a place in Whitefish, Montana.
Bernard Heise lives on a sailboat in the South Pacific. He monitors the sun as it rises and sets; he keeps a watchful eye on the tides. And when the spirit moves him, he animates the mummified corpse of 15th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop and mounts the pulpit at the Church of Rebar Jesus.
Sand by Martha Williams
He bounced over the beach, twirling and leaping as sunlight warmed the breeze on his belly, like when he and Janie were six. His jacket slid down his arms into a Batman cape and he laughed, skidding to a stop and crashing onto his back, mouth open and eyes wide.
“In’t they lovely…”
A voice made him jump. He twisted to see two women tucked beneath the dunes, soaking up the sight of three tiny sisters stampeding sandcastles.
Caramel puddings sticky with salt, the youngest looked past her mother right into his eyes so he beamed and mouthed, “Janie?”
She beamed back.
“Carrie! Here.” Woman, leaping up with sand running in rivulets over her frock. Glaring at the man with the scar who grinned at little girls. Herding her daughters in a furious flap. Frosty silence until his smile faded and he stood, backed away, tried to go forward, backed away again, hypnotised by the pulse of forwards, backwards, forwards so that he carried on rocking even as the mother bustled her brood away.
Murmurs, “…off his head.”
He watched them go. Woman and small girl out of reach. Like the day the truck took Mum and Janie. Leaving him to dance a child’s step all alone, heal the hole in his head, try to move forward, back, forward, back, never understanding the stares nor why his fingers could not keep hold of sand.
Martha Williams lives and writes in the UK, and has had work accepted by Writers’ Forum Magazine, Meridian Writing, Metazen, The Writers’ Bureau, Tomlit, 6s, Nanoism and others. Martha hugs her figments here and Fictionaut.
Hypsometry by Katherine Nabity
He hadn’t been thinking when he left his hat and sunblock in the car. He had stumbled over the rocky sand dune toward the mottled pink dawn and the dull steel ocean, certain that it wouldn’t take so long to find her. He had followed the broken line of deposited debris and the tide came and went.
The sun warmed him and then singed him. The glare off the water darkened his freckles. The sand teemed with living things that fascinated and repulsed him. He didn’t like being barefoot on the beach. He swam occasionally for the coolness of the water, but was always slightly sickened by the brush of kelp against him. He never swam long. He might miss her if he was gone from land.
Others filled the spaces between the clots of green-black seaweed and the hungry rise and fall of the ocean. Most were bronzed or weathered, used to the sun and the wind and the salt. They were not like him, pale like rust-flecked sand. He continued to walk, following where the waves had been, where she had been, and ignored the attention that his white legs garnered. He was not here for them.
He found her when the horizon bled. The water lapped at her bare feet and the wind twisted her hair.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said.
Sunburnt, he smiled.
He wasn’t thinking at all.
Katherine Nabity is a full-time writer and part-time ultimate frisbee enthusiast. She’s married to her writing collaborator and lives in a five computer household. Her other writings can be found at EntangledContinua and her long-standing LiveJournal.
BEACH BOD by Linda Simoni-Wastila
Nothing jiggles. Not a hair out of place. Skin a perfect bronze, museum-quality. The bather stoops to the warm water, buttocks tight mounds. Water dribbles down the flat back, outlining hips and an ironing board stomach. Liquid crystals reflect sun and sky, almost blinding me. Jealousy surges, stronger than the languid swells lapping the beach’s edge.
I lean back on my elbows. Kids kick up sand as they run past the faded whales of their suburban hoi-polloi parents. I feel more than see Sam flip on his back, watching me behind polarized lenses. I turn towards him. Already his shoulders streak red where he’s missed the sunscreen. Sweat glistens on his forehead which, suddenly, looks higher than this morning. He follows my gaze.
“He’s not so great,” Sam says.
“Who?” I say.
His head swivels to the shoreline, to the Perfect One, joined now by another taut body. “That guy in the blue thong,” he says. “I mean, look at that gut.”
As if on cue, the man turns in profile. A small, very small, roll of skin flubs over the speedo’s top.
“Oh,” I say. “Yeah.”
Sam stares towards the horizon. I carefully push up from the sandy blanket, pulling down on my top. I look down at the fleshy mountains straining against spandex. Still perky, still firm. I suck in my stomach, clench my ass muscles, and make my way to the water, to better compare the competition.
Linda Simoni-Wastila lives in Baltimore and blogs at LeftBrainWrite.
Beauty by Catherine Russell
Sarah picked up the conch shell and hefted its weight in her hands.
“Can I see? Can I?” asked Katie. The little girl stood on her toes, sand digging between them.
“I’ve never found one this big before. It’s pretty heavy,” her sister said, handing the shell to Katie. Its size equaled that of the little girl’s head.
She held it close to her chest and peered closely at it. “Why does it look so rough?” she asked, curling one hand around to feel the coarse texture, like worn stone.
“Oh,” said Sarah, overflowing with the knowledge of her years, “that’s just from the wind and water and stuff like that.”
Katie frowned. “I though it would be prettier,” she said.
Sarah reached down and turned the shell over, exposing its smooth, pink opening for the little girl’s inspection.
Katie gasped. “It is pretty!” she said.
Sarah smiled. “Doesn’t mom always say that beauty’s on the inside?” She bent down and placed the opening next to her sister’s ear. She titled her own head close, and the two girls listened to the cool, clean ocean waves together.
Catherine Russell is currently trying to publish her first novel. She writes short fiction, poetry, and learns more about the craft every day.
Lovelies on the Beach by Ajay Nair
He sets his bag down by the boulder and sits down on it. From here, the view is clear – he can make out the gestures of the four girls frolicking by the water, he can play at guessing their thoughts. He breathes in the air, then slides his tongue out and tastes it. Wet with a bit of salt in it.
He unpacks his rifle from the bag, looks through its scope and imagines shooting at the girls. He pictures their heads and bodies exploding, the blood spilling into the water, or maybe diluting the soft sand. His heart races at the thought but his hands are steady, adopting a state of preternatural calm.
The last time these girls were on the beach, they had a fifth companion. She waded too far out, cried for help.No one moved a muscle. These girls stared in horror, mouths open, their colorful swimsuit-clad bodies stuck like mute outposts on the shore. This was not what they reported though. He had looked into their eyes when they told him about their heroic efforts to save his daughter and he knew they’d been lying.
He doesn’t intend to lie after this. For now, he just wants to take in the sea and the quiet. He eats his sandwich.
In the afternoon, he will pick them off one by one, these lovelies cavorting on the beach. He has all the time in this world.
Ajay Nair lives and works in Mumbai. He is an entrepreneur at a live music events firm, having been a private equity investor, an investment banker and a business consultant in the past. He believes that Tendulkar is god, which regrettably is a notion his wife Anita disagrees with. More of his writing is up at his website If I sang out of tune and at Fictionaut.
Tarawa by Matthew A. Hamilton
Under different circumstances I would have considered Tarawa a paradise. But when we landed there on 20 November 1943, the thoughts I had of my wife frolicking on this white sandy beach similar to the one in Hawaii where we spent our honeymoon, turned to blood and fear.
Our Higgins boat jammed in the shallows and so we had to walk across razor sharp coral. Enemy fire honed in on us like swarms of bees. Salt water burned the cuts on my hands and legs.
I lost half my guys before we hit the beach. All I could see and smell was blood and sweat, metal melting on skin. The mortally wounded screamed for their mothers.
I took cover behind an Amphtrack, tried my best to lead young boys to their destiny. Provided that it was clear of Japanese snipers, I determined that the pier would be a good rallying point. Reaching the pier, we dug in as best we could. Bodies and parts of bodies, like soulless driftwood, forced my throat to burn with vomit and hate and tears.
We finally reached inland and dug in for the night. The inexperienced sleepers had their throats cut. The crabs made homes inside their stomachs. Guadalcanal taught me never to sleep and so I lay on my back, still as a rock, and waited for the sun to come up and for the fighting to resume. I thought of my wife and a peaceful paradise.
Matthew A. Hamilton is a US Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the Philippines. He has work in Metazen, Crows Nest Magazine, Long Story Short, and others. He has forthcoming working in Black Lantern Publishing and The Battered Suitcase. After service, Matthew will pursue an MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University.
Lovelies on the Beach by R. G. MacLeod
I work at a restaurant on the beach. Gin clear water. Blindingly white sand.
Here they come, English tourists, once blindingly white, now blindingly red. I’m seriously talking baboon’s ass red.
I can spot them a mile away. Maybe they aren’t used to wearing flip flops and shorts. At least most of them have the decency to not wear Speedos at the beach nowadays, something I wish the Germans would learn.
I’m amazed how many order fish and chips.
Every time I can’t help myself. “Came all this way for that didja? It’s frozen factory made fish planks, not the real thing.”
I try to sell them on something else. Fishermen deliver daily, fresh locally caught fish. Rarely are there less than five fresh catches, at least six ways to prepare them.
“Try the Cobia Almondine” I say, “or the Blackfin Tuna au Poivre, medium-rare.”
“Ah’ve never ‘eard of Cobia. Can I ‘ave the tuna well done?”
“Cobia’s firm white and moist with a crab-like flavor, sorry, flavour. Well done tuna? Might as well just open a can.” Dubious looks.
“Try the Cobia,” I say. “If you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it.” Acquiescence. One even orders the Tuna.
The plates arrive. Tentative small bites.
“Ooh, that’s just lovely that is,” says Doris.
“The tuna’s lovely as well,” says Nigel. “Cheers mate.”
“You’re welcome.” You doubted me?
The happy Brits actually tip more than ten percent.
The fishermen buy me drinks. The Sysco guy hates my guts.
R.G. MacLeod lives and writes on the Gulf Coast of Florida where he is hard at work creating a more interesting bio.
Measure Up by Elizabeth Irvine
Seven years old, desperately hot and seriously pissy. I have some sort of freakish summer cold on the first day the pool is open. The worst! I’d much rather be sick in the winter, at least then people don’t stare when you shiver uncontrollably. I stand in line to get my picture taken for my I.D. card, trying desperately not to sneeze, tears squeeze from my swollen eyes. I’ll keep my thumb pressed firmly over this picture when showing my card for the rest of the summer. Waves of bright light and parching heat relentlessly wash over my aching head making it threaten to split open.The over ripe melon in Dad’s garden with the maggots spilling out. Stumbling through the blinding shallows of the kiddie pool, I can barely see my goal through the sea of shrieking toddlers. Their shrieking cries pierce the base of my skull, I imagine blood trickling down the back of my neck instead of sweat. I have staggered all this way to answer my most burning question, to find out whether I have what it takes, to see if I will measure up. The enormous shining aqua blue Slippy Slide rises, a behemoth in the distance. Will I be 48 inches tall?
Elizabeth Irvine is a professional horse trainer and smart ass and an amateur author. She is currently living in self imposed exile in Pendleton, Oregon.
Jigokudani mon amour by Guy Yasko
He watched the snowflakes land in her hair. They lasted just long
enough for a layer of snow to collect. A parallel layer was building
in his. She had her arms around a rock. He sat against the rocks at
the pool’s edge, only head above hot water. Their faces were wet with
steam and melted snow. Neither moved. Neither wished to. Together
they watched the snow fall. The gorge was more than silent.
She looked miserable. He decided there was a pathos in the way she
clung to the rock in the middle of the pool, that to cling to a rock
is inherently sad because that is what shipwrecked sailors do. Her
eyes seemed almost tearful. Had today been a bad day? He wanted to
ask, but that was out of the question. Her hands were mottled, but he
wouldn’t have called her old. It was the nature of her hands.
Perhaps he was reading suffering into her features. What did she read
in his? What does a monkey see in a man?
Guy Yasko went to Japan as a child and never came home. He makes a living in the intersection of Japan and the anglophone world, often as a translator.
I Came by Walter Bjorkman
I came to the sands to forget the hourglass, tiny droplets of coral casting diamond specks of eternity towards the sun.
I came to the dunes to remember the times we laughed, screwed and slept beneath the Van Gogh night skies on the cooling blanket of particles.
I came to the beach to talk of banjo men with Donovan’s Starfish on the Toast, “holding welkes and periwinkles twinkling” in my hand – fully aware they hold me too.
I came to the surf to remember my first one – a blackfish so small my Father could not feel the tug with his calloused work hands, but his young son’s gentle ones could.
I came to it all trying to forget, but remembering, building a raft of driftwood that summer he died in my ninth year, wanting to sail away from reality and onto his seahorse back-rides just one year before, the sands and surf of the beach my playground, not my memoirs.
Walter Bjorkman is a writer of sorts, meaning there is no sort he will not write about. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but always had a taste for the wilderness, be it city, forest, beaches or desert. He is published in various editions of Poets and Artists (O&S), metazen, Blue Print Review and OCHO. He has spent the last what seems like forever as Co-founder and Editor of the website VOICES – Where Characters (flawed or not) have their say, and he’s just recently been promoted to Editor of 52|250.
Chair and Umbrella, $25 by John Wentworth Chapin
The sun hammered the blue and white umbrella; she gauged the sun coming through the white stripes and guessed that she could burn under that brutality. If white t-shirts are only an SPF of 8, she couldn’t even imagine what a white nylon-mesh umbrella on this godforsaken beach might be in terms of protection. She wasn’t taking any chances. There are certain things you don’t mess around with, and the Maui sun is one them. She’d made sure that the children were slathered in PABA-free 70 before she looked after her own flesh. She eased back in her chaise longue, but before she could relax, she had to think about her scalp. Her hair was pulled back tightly; a razor-sharp part bifurcated her hair above her right eyebrow. She’d gotten unwanted sun on her scalp before. She didn’t want to put on a hat, but certainly, with the unreliable protection of the umbrella, she couldn’t be sure that she wouldn’t burn along her part. She picked up the spray sunscreen she’d used on her thighs and read the ingredients; she wasn’t sure what might be bad for her hair, but there was no point in taking chances. She decided to use the same crème she’d used on her face. No point in taking chances.
Where were the kids? She scanned the beach; a lone floating dinosaur bobbed in the churning surf.
John Wentworth Chapin teaches writing and runs the writing center at the University of Baltimore. He is an Editor of 52|250, but he knows who wears the virtual pants around here.
Island Comfort by Michelle Elvy
Fun comes in large doses round here. Babies swing on tire swings, boys climb on wrecked hulls, girls fish with hermit crabs. Your North Carolina towhead is right at home among the island kids. She glances up at you from the water’s edge, her face happy for the first time since her dad died.
You sit on the porch, grating coconut just as Kalesi taught you. You steal a peek at her expert strokes and strong arms, want to do it just right, as if these small tasks will put order back into your life. She pours water into the bowlful of fluffy white clouds, dives in with both hands and pulls her fingers up through the liquid, and in that moment you see his face again, diving down one last time, his last wave and that optimistic grin. Just before he was gone, forever.
You break down completely now, soft coconut cream running in rivers to your elbows as you cover your eyes with your fists. Kalesi brushes back your bangs. You are glad for her tender touch, surrender to the sobs. And despite all the fury and noise in your head, you know you are safe here.
You climb into bed with your child, breathe in her sweet salty skin. You catch a glimpse of a black speck in her whiteblonde hair: lice. You sigh, think: it’s a small price to pay for the comfort of this place.
Michelle Elvy lives and writes on a 43′ sailboat and is presently located in Whangarei, New Zealand. She is co-editor of 52|250, and she has published work at Metazen, Words With JAM, and 6S. When not flashing here, she’s writing at Glow Worm, listening at VOICES, or sailing on Momo.
The Editors of 52|250 thank Ziggy Blicharz for his photograph, Frogfish and Baby, this week. We asked Ziggy about his passion for photography. Here’s what he said:
I’m just a mechanic.
I use tools that allow me to create something that I like to believe is tasteful and pleasing.
Whether with wood, plaster, paint or photographs, I hope to make something that will last.
It’s allowed my “career” to change with my interests.
The tools were cameras and film.
It would have been nice to have the tool of digital during that slice.
You can find Ziggy at Classic Wall Works.