Category Archives: Susan Gibb

Walking On Seashells by Susan Gibb

“It’s like walking on seashells trying to talk to you!” she said.

“You mean eggs,” he said, “it’s like walking on eggshells.” He snorted to make his point, left the table and went into the other room.

And somehow that ended the argument this time.

She heard the television blare up. People laughing. She couldn’t imagine what in life was so funny anymore that an entire audience would laugh. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down. Her nerves zapped with electric anger. She stuck her hands in the dishwater and watched as they sizzled and spat. It was getting harder and harder. She stopped scrubbing dried pasta off the plate and swore she’d give that one to him at the next meal.

The next night was the same thing. “How the hell do you think my day went?” he said. His eyebrows were set in that mean way they had of placing themselves whenever he talked to her lately.

She poked at the cioppino she’d thought would please something inside him. “What the fuck’s this?” he had growled.

“You don’t have a clue what it’s like out there,” he went on. He worked on a mussel, fork and knife teasing it open. It slid from the plate and flew off. He sat staring at his plate, building up steam, and then shoved the plate off the table and banged out the door.

“Broken shells,” she whispered as she picked them up off the floor. “Seashells.”

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

13 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

Crowded Past by Susan Gibb

She could count lovers on her fingers if she included her thumbs. Was that bad? Did it make her desirable or just loose?

Angela was twenty-eight. She loved sex, had rubber-band flexibility, and though she hadn’t loved all her lovers, there were two or three that meant something more than just sex. One of them had been Andre.

It was on a European vacation after high school graduation. She’d stayed in hostels because it was the trendy way to “do Europe” then. She hadn’t listened to her mother and packed a blanket. It was a cold May in France and Andre was not only warm but handsome in that skinny Frenchman sort of way. He put her to sleep at night with whispered poetry she didn’t understand. Her mother insisted she return to the States immediately. She left him standing on the Left Bank waving goodbye. She often thought of him fondly, blowing kisses and sweet purple violets into the Seine waiting for her to return.

Another was Greg the Hobo who dressed in old ripped sweatshirts and jeans. Her mother had sabotaged the relationship when she brought him home on semester break. He was Dr. Greg (the Hobo) today.

Her last love and the one she was now swallowing pills in her bathroom over is Paul, a musician who told her he loved three other women besides her. Simultaneously. Her mother phoned an hour too late.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

14 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

The Core Question by Susan Gibb

She lived her life concerned about the inside of people, the inside of herself. She’d forget what you looked like, never notice a new haircut, new color, a shaved mustache or beard. She wouldn’t know if you wore the same thing every day. I once wore big dark-rimmed glasses just to see what she’d say and it flew by her attention as if I’d been born with them on. . . and she’s known me since just about then; best friends kindergarten through college.

If she asked you a question she’d present it carefully, each word picked like the best blooms for a bridal bouquet. Then she’d wait, stare at you with an intensity meant to make you realize the importance of your answer but instead only made you feel pressured, flustered, and if you did not know her well, probably annoyed.

“What did we learn?” she asked me three hours before graduation ceremonies would begin. “What, if it comes down to a sentence, was the most important knowledge we’ve gained?”

“Not to mix wine and beer?” I said. I hoped that maybe on this one day at least she would relax, enjoy, go with the flow of the crowd. Believe me, nobody else would be pondering beyond missing their friends, gaining their freedom, their summer trips to Europe or at the very least, Belize.

“No,” she said. “We’ve learned that we are a core, with apple growing around it.”

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

10 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

Wrapped Up Inside by Susan Gibb

Nadine was the odd child who liked layering clothes; kneesocks, tights and legwarmers sticking out from shirts and sweaters that fell almost to the edge of her skirt.

She liked gloves and sometimes wore them with mittens.

There were tams with tassels and saucer-like wide-brimmed hats, all topped with ribbons and sometimes a flower–even one that looked like a Bird of Paradise plant. Her hair underneath was long, very long, likely down to her hips but wound up in plaits and wrapped around her head like a crown.

Her mother thought she was cold. Her father just thought she was fat. Her brother bounced off of her running to the table, the TV, through the hallways in school. He thought it was fun, that she was quite funny. Unlike most brothers, he liked Nadine a lot.

She didn’t have many friends, most frightened away by the heaviness of a mood that matched her appearance. Dark, mistaken as sullen, she was a genius inside of her cave, mumbling out correct answers her teachers would need to bend forward to hear.

One night as Nadine was undressing for bed, laying out the pajamas and nightgown and socks and bedjacket that she would wear, she glanced in a mirror. The mirror reflected her room and her bed, her clothes in a pile on the floor, but somehow, she wasn’t there.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

15 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

Coincidence by Susan Gibb

I happened by your street last night, just as you were going out the door. I wanted to say hello but you seemed in such a hurry so I followed you instead, thinking that perhaps I’d catch you when you came to your destination.

It was an unfamiliar part of town–at least to me–so I parked several cars behind you. I waited a moment too long and you were out and up the stairs of an address I just scribbled down. A short while later you came out and a girl was a step or so behind you. Odd, you both got in your car.

You went to Antonio’s Real Italian Restaurant. Isn’t that funny–you and I went there all the time. I guess you must have really liked it there and hadn’t lied. I thought about going in and having dinner too, then I’d get a chance to talk to you and meet your friend. But honestly, I wasn’t very hungry.

She looked quite tipsy, your friend; was it the sauvignon? Or did you have the burgundy we always had with the lasagna? I deliberated and then decided that I shouldn’t approach you both just then. I’m sure she would have just been too embarrassed.

I waited for a long time when you dropped her off. Then I woke up in the morning and your car was gone. I would have liked to say hello and ask you if you miss me.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

24 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

The Money’s Gone by Susan Gibb

They stood together in a circle around a fire that was slowly dying out. The man held out the last bit of paper, a one-dollar bill. He held it by its ends, his fingers trembling slightly, and stretched it out in front of him and stared at it a long time.

The others waited, there was no reason to rush him. He was a banker, yes; they could tell that from his suit now sooty grey. One man who used to be a mechanic on the street that used to be there found it funny that the banker still wore his tie. But then it would come in handy as a tourniquet if needed. Stranger things were being salvaged.

The banker let go of one end of the dollar bill. It flipped in the wind that blew hard and straight off the ocean, having neither trees nor structures left to slow it down. He took a few steps forward, dropped to his haunches and held the bill to the struggling flame. It flared as if it cried out with the metamorphosis into ash.

“Now what?” the former mechanic asked to no one in particular. Though some had looked to the banker as their leader, most had simply followed anyone that appeared to have a place to go.

The banker stood up, looked around beyond the people to the horizon. “I don’t know,” he said. “We just never thought…I just don’t know.”

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

14 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

Distance by Susan Gibb

For two hours she sat silent at the far end of the couch, the cat held tightly on her lap and petted aggressively to ensure it would stay. Between them an empty cushion two miles wide. On the far end he sprawled with his feet up on the coffee table. He wished she would put her feet up on it too.

He tried to think of something to say but the game was so close between teams. She got up and went into the kitchen. He reached for the cat but it hissed at him.

In the morning she found him asleep on the couch and she smiled. The TV was silent and the cat was curled up on his chest.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

12 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb