Category Archives: Michelle Elvy

Michelle Elvy’s Flash

The Other Side of Better by Michelle Elvy

Running up a hill
tripping upwards
falling downwards
making deals with the devil
or God — whichever works better

Radio’s on
Bush is burning
I turn it up and feel me yearning
for your devil grin and thunder heart
or God — whichever is better

As I listen and wait
I soon find myself
in a song
               it’s you and me…
in tune
               It’s you and me who won’t be unhappy…

in love and singing
this is better

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No Plan by Michelle Elvy

“I thought you don’t smoke,” he said, taking in her sunbleached hair, the scar through her left eyebrow, her slightly crooked nose. Surprised at the rush of feeling he felt as he formed her name in his mouth: Mo. They were sitting on the dock, halyards clanking in the distance on a soft evening breeze.

“I don’t,” she replied as she exhaled long and cool. “But I like the pretty pink ashtray. Where’d you get it?”

“Don’t recall,” he lied. “Some beach in Mexico.”

Fact was, he knew precisely where he got it. It had been the last day of his Mazatlan honeymoon, the one he had planned for months because that’s the sort of fellow he was. The flights, the tours, the resort, the scooters. Everything had gone according to plan, too, from dining to surfing to spelunking in places whose names they could not pronounce. Then, on the last day, the plan fell apart when she said “I can’t” one week after her “I do”. No explanation, either, just a lonely flight back with a suitcase full of shells collected for a future that did not exist.

Mo stubbed out her unfinished Camel, said quizzically, “So? what’s the plan?”

And then, he was suddenly on his feet, hurtling the shell out to sea and shouting, “I got no plan!” And the ashes were still floating away on the breeze when Mo stood up beside him, took his hand in hers and whispered, “That’s alright.”

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Priorities by Michelle Elvy

for Rob

Rich and Sarah got married. Everyone came. The prying aunt from Philly, the slobbery uncle from Sicily. The cousin with weepy eyes, the cousin-twice-removed who smells like mothballs.

The guest-list decision came one night over bubble bath and champagne.

“If we invite Aunt Jane, we have to invite Phyllis,” said Sarah, scratching in her notebook and splashing in the bubbles. “And if we invite Phyllis, we can’t leave out Bea.”

“And with Bea always comes her stupid dog,” said Rich, as he stepped in to join her. “What’s his name?”

“Freddie.”

“Yeah: Fucking Freddie. Pass the rubber duckie.”

“Rich! Focus! We either open up the list to the whole crazy family or…”

“Yeah, I know, but right now the loofah’s calling. I feel dirty — and I got my priorities.”

The guest list fell to the floor as Sarah scooted down deep and felt a slippery tongue between her toes.

In the end, everyone was invited, and all their friends and family attended, 532 in all. It was a much larger affair than they had envisioned. People drank and danced long into the night, peering into webcams and sending out good cheer from seventeen points across the globe. From 200 in Boston to 80 in Berlin to just Frida and Jorg and a well-behaved parrot in Cyprus, everyone participated with glee.

It was the first internet wedding in both families. It was also the first New Zealand bathtub wedding. It was also probably the first wedding with toe-sucking between I-do‘s.

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Three of Four by Michelle Elvy

When Great-Grandpa Harold told me that eating the whole apple to the core and even past it, seeds and all, would make me live forever, I believed him. He was living proof, after all. He died at 101 when I was 10 — the closest thing to forever that I could imagine. Harold told me four basic truths back then. The other three were: chocolate is great but sex is better; your girl is always the prettiest; Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain will change your life.

My sister and I grew up eating our apples all the way down, seeds and all. She even ate the stems, thought Great-Grandpa Harold would think that especially good. She died last year at age 38. I’m still getting over it, and I admit that I’ve been bitter. But lately my girl and I sit on the porch at night, listening to Miles Davis, and I think that Harold was right about most everything. I still eat my apples past the core, seeds and all, ‘cause I don’t like to think of Harold as a liar. And besides, three out of four ain’t bad.

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Secret by Michelle Elvy

You saw me
and I saw you
and we smiled
but we said nothing
because we weren’t supposed to
see anything at all

I loved you
and you loved me
and we fucked
but we said nothing
because we weren’t supposed to
be anything at all

Now I see you
and you don’t see me
and I still want you
but I say nothing
because it’s not supposed to
mean anything at all

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Words Matter by Michelle Elvy

She looked at the board in front of her, the words criss-crossing in impossibly neat rows, the red triple-word square waiting for the letters which would win the game. It had come down to this, the score so close that the last play would win.

She measured her breath carefully as she turned over her newly selected letter. The smooth surface in her palm, the winning combination. But at what price? she wondered.  Her hands shook as she organized the letters in front of her, concealed from him behind their letter-wall.  She placed the r in its place, just right: r-u-i-n. Her lip trembled and months’ worth of anger flooded in — violent, desperate words and a recently thrown shoe which had left a dent in the door.

Your turn, she said, and she was glad for the wait.

He glanced up, a serious piercing look, and she wondered if he too felt like the last word mattered this much. It’s just a game, she told herself. But still: those four letters winked wickedly from their little shelf, and she knew their truth. Everything ruined.

k: his first letter down, red triple. Then came the rest in rapid succession.

That’s not a word, she blurted as she leaned in to examine his rule-breaking contribution.

I don’t care. And the letters went flying as he reached across the table and pulled her to meet him half-way, his k-i-s-s-m-e ending the game between them, her r-u-i-n falling right off its perch.

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The Weight of Water by Michelle Elvy

Pop had the idea when I was around seven to sell bottled water. Everyone laughed at him, said he was nuts.

Which was true, mostly. He usually had one idea on the go, another in his back pocket. We were always up-and-coming. He started a swimming pool company once: we’d make it rich that way. We even built one in our backyard one summer, must have been ‘74 or ‘75. There are pictures of my oldest brother surveying the backyard, barely tall enough to peek through the lenses balanced on the orange tripod, and my other brother and me in the hopper, troweling aggregate smooth. Blonde kids up to their elbows in grey. When the water trucks came, we had not yet put the braces in behind the walls so they began to push out with the weight of the water. The bolts groaned as the sides nearly pulled apart. I didn’t know something so liquidy smooth could be so heavy. “Quick, grab what you can!” We hurriedly created our own landfill behind the walls, collected everything from our garage that we could find that was destined for the dump: old strollers, tents, games, trikes. So many items got buried that day. I still wish some hadn’t.

He’s long gone, Pop, and we moved away. But I loved that pool, skinny-dipped my way through my teen years with my best friend Beth.

Pop never did launch his water company. I reckon he should have.

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