Category Archives: Wk #41 – Coincidence

Week #41 – Coincidence

Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.

The theme is coincidence.

Panel 3.7 by Al McDermid
Timing Off . by Maude Larke

Gaëlle was sure that Puffball was snooping around the new apartment to find the corners that she would make her own. She walked leisurely through it as she munched a carrot and closed the windows against the coming evening coolness. The novelty of the steep staircase to a second half of the place had been a shock for the cat; she had wiped out on the glossy paint of the steps. Gaëlle wondered where she had chosen to curl up and pout. She walked into the bathroom just as Puffball’s tail slipped from the skylight and into the waiting air.

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FALSE FAME . by Marcus Speh

Sometimes I go to a bookshop to look for my books on the shelves. This is a total wank because I haven’t published anything but the young bookseller doesn’t know that. “I am awfully sorry, Sir. What was your name again?”, he says. “I hadn’t mentioned my name”, I say. “I thought you’d surely recognize me from the papers.” — “But of course”, says he, blushing as he tries to bullshit the bullshit king. “Well”, I say, “see you next week maybe – hope all is fixed by then”. He looks flustered, helpless, browsing around for older, more senior staff as I leave, smiling and waving like a visiting politician with a pole up his arse.

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(coin)cidences . by Dorothee Lang

are tossed tangents
of chance,
flocks of relativity
touching the ground
right in front of
your feet
in the shape
of an invisible coin
pick it up and
live, now

or leave it

while you halt + read
live, now

while the heads
turn to tails

in this velo(city)
called our

which is
in German
and, in any mirror, turns to


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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.

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Making Lemonade . by Michelle McEwen

He was in the fruit and vegetable aisle— standing there like he was waitin’ for me, like he was put in that aisle deliberately. Had to have been ‘cause I know about fruits and vegetables. When he saw me coming, he asked, “Where ‘bout they keep the clementines?” I knew this couldn’t be a coincidence then ‘cause I love clementine oranges and I knew exactly where ‘bout they were kept. I knew it was meant to be then. I had half a mind to put him in my cart, roll him to the checkout, ring him up, bag him and bring him home as though he was on my shopping list. I didn’t have to, though, ‘cause he followed me all around that store and out the store, too. He said, leaning against my car, “You need lemons? I got some at the house I ain’t using.” I just stared at him. Any fool knows if you got lemons at home, you make lemonade. I almost told him that, too. What I did tell him was I could use the lemons and he told me to follow him home. I knew what he was up to, knew when we got there he wasn’t gon’ leave me outside in my runnin’ car while he ran the lemons out to me. I knew he’d ask me in, knew he’d have me making lemonade all day. I ended up staying the night— my groceries taking up the shelves in his pantry and ‘fridge.

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Cheap and Convenient . by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Coincidence? More like serendipity. I mean, this pink paper flapping under my windshield wiper, the only car on the street? Day care services, the flyer said. Infants welcome. Manna from heaven! Do you know how hard it is to find someone to watch babies? I had to return to work — you know how it goes when you’re single. Besides, she was cheap and convenient.
She seemed okay. Quiet. Sad brown eyes. She looked kind of familiar. But she rocked Sophie, face out, the same way I do. “Beautiful baby,” she sang. “Beautiful baby.” Later, when she said she’d had miscarriages, I should have put it all together. Because she was there in the hospital, you know. In the same room. I only remembered after.

I hated leaving Sophie with her. I wanted to stay home with my baby. That first week Sophie screamed herself purple when I dropped her off. Me? I bawled at my desk. Called every hour. “Is she all right?” I’d ask, and she’d say, “She’s just fine, Miss Dorothee.”

It got better. We found our routine. That day I was actually relaxed – it was my birthday, you know – so I treated myself to an ice cream cone on the walk home. But no lights were on. She didn’t answer the door, so I kicked in the window, black raspberry spattered all over the front steps, but she wasn’t there, no one was there… oh God, officer, please find my baby.

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Violet Hour . by Maggie Sokolik

“Whatcha drinking?” yells a woman from the end of the bar.

I swirl my glass. The sugar flower spins in a lavender eddy. “Violet Hour,” I say, more loudly than I’d planned.

“Isn’t that the name of the song that’s playing?” I squint trying to hear the music coming from the speakers above the door.

“I can’t hear it,” I say, still swirling. “My name is Violet,” I add. I am trying to stop lying. Going without cigarettes has been easier.

She moves to the empty chair next to me. “That’s what I’ve been talking about,” she says. She smells like a fried egg.

“What?” I say, catching a bit of lyrics… And now you`re setting upon your chair.

“Fucking coincidences everywhere, I’m telling you.”

“Hmmm… like what?”

“Violet! Violet Hour!” She slams her glass down, sloshing the last of it onto her napkin.

“Aha,” I say. “Tell me another.”

“Yesterday, I was reading a book on the bus. I looked up and there’s the author sitting across from me. Right there, on the bus.”

“Like Leave Her to Heaven? Did you kill her son?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

I shrug. “What are you drinking?” I ask, staring at her empty glass. “I’ll get you another.”

“A margarita.”

“Funny. My name is Margarita.”

“Oh, fuck you,” she says, and grabs her coat from the chair.

“Could I have a scotch and soda?” I ask the bartender, as I toss another quarter in the jukebox.

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Consider how . by Shann Palmer

A draft slips under the door on the coldest night of the year, when even butter spreads hard though it sat out all day. Waiting

for you to return takes patience beyond what I can offer. Bring me something insignificant to talk about, tonight might be all there

is (this now). The chance to clap if you believe, to say thank you is the least we can do. (What it takes) Breath this rare air, hold

out for a lake, a mountain, where wide leaves rustle up stories the wind pulls from willing limbs.

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The Dishrag . by Melissa McEwen

All the women on my mother’s side are superstitious. They won’t whistle or open umbrellas in the house. They’re always knocking on wood and crossing their fingers. I just laugh at them, but after today, I… let me start from the beginning. My aunt May-Helen has been staying with me since she left her boyfriend Willie. She said, “Willie’s the kinda man that could jus’ look at ya and scare ya.” But he did more than look at her on the day she left and came knocking on my door in the middle of the night. She told me she called the cops because he held a knife to her throat, but he was gone before the cops came and she was gone before Willie came back. This was months ago; we haven’t seen or heard from Willie since. But this morning, when Aunt May-Helen was washing dishes, she screamed so loud I thought I’d see Willie in the kitchen when I ran downstairs, but all I saw was aunt May-Helen knocking on all the wood she could find. I thought Auntie had lost her mind. I asked her what happened and she looked at the dropped dishrag, then looked at me. She said, “The dishrag fell! D’you know what that means? A visitor! I had a dream ’bout Willie, too. He’s comin’ after me!” And, oh, how we jumped when we heard knocking on the backdoor, but it was Hazel from across the street wanting a cup of flour.

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She just happened . by Darryl Price

to be playing the hell out of
her guitar out of tune and wonky sounding
perfect for the blues at the same
time as this car was pulling out of
the driveway next door to the rosebushes
that only bloomed to one side.And the

telephone pole was sputtering uptop from being
pecked at by a huge black crow when
all of a sudden there was an
enormous pressure drop in the wind outside the
house and her cell rang twice but
no more than that. After which it remained
silent.As she finished her pleating the

rains came and the door banged open and
the porchswing was yanked from its chains
and rolled into the swingset like a jagged
pumpkin- mouthed scarecrow head.She giggled nervously,
the baby wailed and the lights went
out.I was just driving my car

off the bridge when she lit the last
candle and sat down and pressed her
breast into the baby’s face and hummed more
lyrics into its perfect ears. It all
cleared a few minutes later like the same
dream. I floated down the river looking
for a ladder. Or a tunnel to home.

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Standing Next to the Afternoon . by Jill Chan

He wanted to be inevitable today. No one at home. He is standing next to the afternoon. An indefinite day—a day wide open, shut closed to his efforts.

He tried reading but even the book is closed. But he is drowning in words that recall her. She has left with everything the day couldn’t open. He has arrived at a place she’ll never forget.

And he is ready at last. By himself, he is stubborn as someone who could not be deserted. War in a time of battle.

And they fought even now. He would think of things he hated about her and draw swords as sharp as her mind. They lost together.

Night is falling on him. He can feel the weight of her beauty desecrating the dark. How ominous is love when darkened by sorrow. When improper sight is held close by our wandering. For she is his sight and vision. His wants of holy desire.

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Puffing . by Susan Tepper

Who woulda thought my wife Mabel woulda gone out to Sears & Roebuck and bought the same coat with brown flecks in gray wool that Janelle Stevens bought? Those two been arch enemies since grade school. One likes peanut butter, one likes jelly. One likes chocolate, one vanilla. You get the picture, I told Rudy. Rudy nodded and went about wiping down the oil from the paint shaker machine. For a hardware guy he shoulda known better. You put too much oil, I said. Rudy nodded and lit a cigarette. You can get cancer, I said. Rudy stubbed out the cigarette. Why d’ya pay attention to me? I asked him. You got the one I wanted, he said. You got Mabel Brady. I only got Janelle Stevens. Mabel Brady has the bigger chest. Well how ’bout that, I said puffing out my own chest.

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Coincident Lines . by Michael Webb

She stepped back from the white board, where she had written “COINCIDENT” in her firm hand. It wasn’t a girlish, bubbly handwriting, but it definitely wasn’t a man’s either. The letters were in a bright green ink, standing out clearly against the smooth glassy surface. “So if the lines are completely coincident, class, that means…anyone?”

She looked at them hopefully. She looked like one of the actresses on Law and Order, one of the assistant DAs that worked with Jack McCoy- the one who had been married to a football player. He watched everything she did, enraptured. She made him think of a line from a story he read: “her name was like a summons to all his foolish blood”.

He heard the catty little remarks the girls made behind her back- that she was stuck up. She wasn’t- she was as open and friendly as an authority figure could afford to be. The girls in his classes couldn’t be less interested in their fellow students as paramours- except when someone diverted the boys’ attentions.

He knew it was sheer luck he was placed in this math class, the pure happenstance of needing to have fifth period free, and he knew it was a few more short weeks before Mrs. Reynolds was back from maternity leave. He knew she wasn’t really a TV star. He knew this and watched her eyes flit around the room, looking for someone who knew the answer.

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Vow . by Matt Potter

The smell wafted from the open Bible. I gagged behind my veil, dewy mood shattered.

Cameron picked it from the pages and tried to slide it on my finger but I snatched my hand away.

His eyes searched mine.

“It smells,” I whispered.

Father O’Donoghue leaned towards us, sour breath fluttering the tulle. “You got cold feet?”

“There’s something wrong with the ring,” Cameron said.

A cough rose from the front pew.

“The ring smells, Father,” I said.

“What of?” he said. “Formaldehyde?”

My brain blanked. Which word was appropriately churchy? “Excrement,” I said.

No look of recognition spread across his face.

“Shit,” I whispered.

“Shit!?” he said too loudly. Murmurs filled the church.

The priest took the ring and sniffed it, then turned to Cameron, raising his eyebrows.

“You buy shit, it’s gonna smell like shit,” he said. “You should’ve come to me like I told you and got a good deal with my nephew.” He sniffed the ring again then threw it on the floor. Its tinny roll echoed through the church. “Cheap Chinese shit.”

He reached into his pocket, pulled out another ring, and tossed it on the open Bible.

Sighing with relief, Cameron took the ring and grabbed my finger.

I pulled away again. “But it’s not the ring I chose.”

“I am the word of God!” the priest hissed, my veil blowing in my face with such force it tangled in my eyelashes.

Luckily, Father O’Donoghue’s other nephew catered the reception.

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A Conventional Woman . by Len Kuntz

She was known as a conventional woman, but shocked people by marrying a blind man named Eugene.

Before their union, she’d met Eugene on a dare, he being a palm reader at the county fair. He smoothed her hand as if it were a sovereign flag and, wearing a straight face, declared that she would wed him within the year.

Initially, Eugene’s audacity repulsed her, but as days passed she found herself picturing him tracing his fingers over her face, Eugene’s fingers like paint brushes across her body, eager to fill in her open spaces with bright, hopefulness.

They wed on a remote island, and when Eugene fell ill, the dutiful new wife went in search of stomach medicine but found instead a small house-front offering tarot and palmistry readings.

The discovery of the place in an exotic land just hours following their matrimony seemed a good omen, so she strode confidently through the rope of beads hanging in the doorway.

Cowbells clattered. A man, stooped but handsome, appeared and told her to sit.

She slipped off the wedding ring, feeling her pulse rippling where bone would be.

His fingers felt hot and certain on her skin. Sure enough, within minutes, he did it—he claimed they would be wed by the following summer.

She screamed, “No!”

“It’s true,” he said. “Either that or your death.”

She put her ring and ran out the door, into the busy street, not seeing the careening tourist bus that would run her down.

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The Man Without a Muse . by Erik Knutsen

Exiled in Paris, Meriwether Gorse, a romantic vagabond, whose self-importance grossly outweighed his accomplishment, began the theoretical obliteration of the muses. He intended to demonstrate that the forms of creation that they embodied were illusory. There was no Calliope from whose breast he could suckle inspiration; the mysteries hidden in literature and between a woman’s legs did not coincide. The essential difference of function between Meriwether’s movements of creation and that which he rebuked was a question of intaking versus outpouring; that which was freely given over against that which was coaxed out.

As he wrote, the nine grew anxious. They could not afford Meriwether’s attack on the slender threads of devotion they yet had. In a brief, but heated, conclave it was determined that Erato would be sent to distract this man from his work.

When she appeared to him in all her glory, he addressed her with contempt. “I thought one of you might try to interfere.”

“Meriwether Gorse do not speak to me so disdainfully. I am not a mortal to be disregarded, not when I bring pleasures you cannot imagine.”

“Don’t speak to me of your pleasures. I cannot take them; I have found the higher. With one four letter word I can destroy you. The similarity it has to what you offer is merely coincidence. There never have been muses.”

Erato left defeated. Melpomene thought to do better, but it was too late. A thought was born, the knife on which inspirations balance.

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Life, the Universe, and Henry Miller . by Al McDermid

At one point I had gotten it my head to move to Los Angeles and so picked up a copy of the LA Weekly, a magazine I had never before read. The cover story of this particular issue was about Henry Miller, in which Miller is quoted as saying, “If the floodgates of the psyche should open and destroy our society, what harm could there be in that?” I then knew I needed to read Miller, and wanted to do so at the moment, but I didn’t have any of his books. I could have gone to the bookstore, but that seemed, at that moment, like too much trouble. Besides, I had plans to meet some friends and was running late. I forget about Miller and head down the hill. Literature matters, but life matters more. Living it matters most of all. I later learned that Henry would have probably agreed.

There were two ways up the hill where I lived at the time, a straight steep shot, or a very long switch back. I seldom took the switch back, but that night I couldn’t face the climb. In front of one house along the way, stacked on top of the waiting garbage can, was a bundle of books, among them a ninety-five cent Black Cat edition of Tropic of Cancer.

It’s a simple process. I decide that I need to read Henry Miller and the universe provides Henry Miller.

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Token Sucking . by Matthew Dexter

Getting lost in labyrinth of New York City subway system eats me alive, drunk on beer, fake I.D. in pocket–not fake in fact but somebody’s driver’s license–some accomplished stranger who slightly resembles my face only says I’m ten years older; some twenty-nine year old Joe Blow friend of my buddy’s, lost again, where did he go? Found him sitting on different train an hour after first lost him; so happy to have him back, see his Irish face: pale blue eyes, skinny sapphire cold with innocuous ice, ecstatic to be back with the only one who can lead me out of this maze, subterranean teenage mutant ninja turtles, but where is he? Where the hell is he?

Oh no, not again, sitting alone on ground platform back against the wall surrounded by cops, about four or five NYPD, two bad ones, couple good ones laughing, asking for identification; call my numbers on walkie-talkie. Horrified and waiting for handcuffs. Plastic back in hand, convince them I’m twenty-nine and fine, walk away guys, need to find my friend.

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Reasons . by Helen Vitoria

As if the universe was an assault. We end up at the same place, at the same time, in the same ghost town after four years. How fast those four years must have gone for you. You spend time laying out the odds, gambling on the interior of a cloud collapsing. I heard you became a magician. Your life must have been a hell of a tabletop trick. I heard you learned how to tuck people in the cuff of your sleeve, that your mouth became a bleeding martyrdom. My four years were different. I changed the seasons around, kept it winter year round. I would have sent you pictures, but I knew you could not bear it. I quit taking risks that did not involve lightening. I learned to study wings. There were feathery wings, translucent wings, wings in a graveyard, and iridescent wings that turned to dust in my hands. I later thought it was best to study magic tricks. You know, the inner workings of salvation. I learned how to wait.

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A Whole Lie . by Kim Hutchinson

A half-truth is a whole lie.                                                    Yiddish proverb


Just Another Word For

So, I saw a car just like yours, she says, parked behind that nurse’s house. On the corner.

Must be a coincidence, he says, turning away. The car just looked like mine.

Rage and danger bubble under his words.

So did the license plate, she thinks, but she dare not say.

She dare not.

An Everyday Story

A boy rounds a corner on his way to work and stands waiting for a light. Across the street, he sees a pretty girl.

Later that day, she’s in the elevator. He says hello. She smiles.

A few years later, now a harried married man, he leaves for work every day at 8:14.

Today, he leaves at 8:05.

He stops for coffee at the same place as always. He bumps into an old girlfriend; he hasn’t seen her in years. They chat, and he finds out that she’s divorced and lonely.

A decade later, he’s a middle-aged man. His youngest daughter, ten years from her sisters, the apple of his eye, brings home a new friend, a little boy.

He knows the friend’s mother. We dated in high school, he tells the boy.

But he’s startled. The boy looks a lot like he did at that age.

What a coincidence, says his wife, avoiding his eye.

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Liberation 1968 . by Andrew Stancek

Robert was already dressed and tip-toeing out when the phone on the dresser rang. Who the hell calls at two in the morning? He rushed across the room to prevent another ring. Olinka had not stirred; her breathing regular.

“Yeah,” he grunted.

“Robert? I knew you’d be there. They invaded.”

“You’re not kidding, are you? To scare me into coming home?”

“Don’t flatter yourself. Turn the damn radio on. Tanks are crossing borders. Five armies. This is not about your pecker. We are an occupied country.”

Robert noticed his shirt was not tucked in on the right side. Pale blue panties were scrunched on the floor; the bottle still had two fingers in it, going flat. Bloody waste, he thought.

“Are they heading to Bratislava? Barricades up? Am I safe on the street?”

“Haven’t reached us yet but they’re on the way. The radio said five Warsaw pact armies are claiming to liberate us. Later we’ll talk about us, Robert, but now, get yourself here. Your children will need you at home, even if you don’t give a damn about your wife.”

“Half an hour,” he said. “If they don’t shoot me down like a dog, half an hour.” He put the phone down. The sheet had slipped off the sleeper. He stared for a moment at the lovely breast moving up and down. He always knew there’d be hell to pay.

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Dice . by Catherine Russell

text upon a screen
fingers hitting keys
hairless apes
commonly descended
from ancestors
evolved from life
begun at the single cell level

the oceans
the plants
the sun hitting the atmosphere
the planet orbiting the sun
at just over 67,000 miles per hour

The moon
a cosmic coincidence
just right to form the life
sitting here questioning its meaning

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A Map . by Stephan Hastings-King

The people who together form an open-ended series A through N…, and who were scattered and adrift for a time, now constitute themselves as complex figure beneath a sign that says: “We missed you too” through layers of activity that are like multi-dimensional chess except that each scale and configuration impacts those around it.

I hear it in what the woman next to me is saying, in the ways her sentences are also elements in a mosaic of words that migrate from one conversation to another, that arrive and are repeated, arrive and are repeated, again and again.

I imagine a geography of everyone talking and a map of invisible territories made from elements of conversations that appear inside one another, kernels of lateral interactions that get pulled into knots as soon as attention wanders.

For a while every sentence I hear refers only to other sentences and the map is an aspect of the territory. Then it is an idea adrift in the ways intentional and non-intentional systems weave together and come apart again.

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Lambs to the Slaughter . by Martin Porter

To test the system God sent forth His wish
That Abram, who loved his son so deeply, should love his God to death
And slay his own beloved, his only boy,
So Abram took his knife up, to love his God and kill his joy.
But on the mountain, God repented of His command
And trapped a lamb for Abram, to fulfill His demand.
Yet Abram, being honest, insisted on his son’s life
And promised God his loved one would perish by his knife.
So God offered the lamb, and spoke, “Slay it and we will be as one”,
And Abram took up the knife and slew the lamb.

To test the system God sent forth His wish
That Abram, who loved his son so deeply, should love his God to death
And slay his own beloved, his only boy,
So Abram took his knife up, to love his God and kill his joy.
But on the mountain, God repented of His command
And trapped a lamb for Abram, to fulfill His demand.
Yet Abram, being honest, insisted on his son’s life
And promised God his loved one would perish by his knife.
So God offered the lamb, and spoke, “Slay it and we will be as one”,
And Abram took up the knife and slew his son.

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No More I Love You’s . by Robert Vaughan

For someone who’s barely
acknowledged me, he now
oozes I love you…

I love you…
so much that I

I liked it better
before, left up
to me. When I had

no clue. I found

peace in that
silent forest.


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A Fair Opportunity . by Catherine Davis

“Step on up! Get your CO-incidence Plan, OR: your FOR-tay’un MYS-ter-ies! A ONCE in a lifetime OP-portunity!”

Miranda’s friends had taken off: no bialys or bracelets here. But the silver-haired man, his musical voice, his conjuring hands – this electric air had captured Miranda.

“Invest in your OWN beliefs, LAY-dies and Gentle-MEN!”

Suddenly it’s her turn. The silver-haired man and his partner rush her: Birthday? Right-handed; left? Favorite color? Now, THE question.

“My mom says there are no coincidences.”

“And your dad says – nothing but.” Miranda frowns. “Lucky guess,” he shrugs.

“Still, I don’t know what ‘fortayun’ means!”

“Sure y’ do, hon, otherwise you wouldn’ta come. Your Fortean Mystery is exactly the opposite of coincidence, see? How much you got?” Man Two talks fast.

Coincidence: one quarter; Fortean: five bucks. Miranda shifts foot to foot.

Man One sighs. “Coincidence is cheap. Popular. Makes people comfortable. But you seem a young woman of… ? Ah, you get what you pay for. Then, Fortean is… complex.”

“No guarantees!” interrupts Two. “You got the opportunity to make life easy.”

Miranda studies the piggy-bank money cupped in her hands. “One of each?”

“Noooo,” they chime. “Gotta be one way or the other,” Two adds, arms folded.

She starts– but they shush: “Whisper into my ear,” says One.

Pocketing her money, they flourish a fancy certificate: gold seal and all.

“Keep it to yourself,” they say, rolling it up.

Miranda hurries through the crowd, past cotton-candy vapors, clutching her prize – eyes wild with worry and wonder.

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Trois coïncidences impliquant la langue français . by Guy Yasko



— Eric, you need to get school.
— I know, Mom.
— Got your books?
— Your French homework! Honestly, Eric — and after all that sturm and
— drang.

Books in hand, door slammed, feet down steps, angle of toast hanging
from mouth. Out the door, around the corner. One two steps into the


8:48, late. Alley to Riverside. Garbage. Like mountains. Can’t see.

Schoolkid. Dead?


— Ma tête me fait mal.

— What?

— Non, j’ai pas de faim. Impossible de manger avec ce mal de tête.

— We don’t speak French, Eric. Why are you speaking French?

— Laisse moi tranquil, maman.

–Someone call Judy.

— I don’t care if she is working. This is her nephew.


Seeking couscous, i become aware of being interpellated. It’s Eric. He
speaks nonstop in either Italian or English; English to me, Italian to
everyone else. He’s lost, but will not listen to directions. I take him
to the Jewish Quarter in a taxi. I interpret.

— Deux sandwiches falafel s’il vous plaît.

He is a stream of Italian the next day at the Gare du Nord.

— You’ll miss your train.

I push him on. He is still talking as the train leaves.

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The Devil’s Troubadour . by Michael Parker

(Inspired by the motion picture, The Wind Journeys [Columbia, 2009], directed by Ciro Guerra)

The desert was thirsty. Its face, cracked and peeling. The wind’s blast was hot, even the setting sun burned the horizon a brimstone red and stoked the land’s furnace. The Devil’s laugh was the screech of wind. Ignacio Carillo heard Him as he dug the grave that would hold the body of his beloved wife.

Ignacio knew misery was the harvest he sowed. He desired fame and women and got it making a deal with the troubadour who beat the Devil in a duel, winning His accordion. “I’ll take your place so you can be free to live your life.”

The Devil’s troubadour agreed.

Ignacio traveled Colombia for ten years. Wherever Ignacio played, he was never want of food, drink, or women.

But in a small town, Ignacio found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He vowed then he would never play again. And he didn’t. The Devil, in his fury, took the life of Ignacio’s wife. Devastated, Ignacio chose to return the cursed accordion to his mentor.

One morning, Ignacio left the town of his wife on a donkey and headed north to the shore of the Caribbean sea. After a half-day’s ride, he sensed another presence. Turning the donkey around, Ignacio saw a young man following. “What do you want?” Igancio bellowed.

“Are you the troubadour who plays the Devil’s accordion?” the boy asked confidently.

Ignacio’s heart grew heavy. Coincidence, he pondered. No, the Devil doesn’t play that game.

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Serendipity . by Stella Pierides

I had been out rowing the Stella, a small, creaking boat, in the
waters off the holy island of Tinos, the Lourdes of the Aegean. I was
escaping the constant arguments with my wife about money, or rather
the lack of it. Nine months after closing down our bookshop in Athens,
visiting the island seemed our best strategy: she would be praying for
a job, while I, a sworn atheist, would be avoiding the strikers – who
did have jobs, after all!

Following our breakfast argument, I took Nikos’ boat out to let off
steam. He was asleep when I started off, as he is up all night
fishing. I knew he wouldn’t mind.

Then my eye fell on a golden, filigreed cross the thickness of my
little finger stuck between the boards. My mouth opened. I pictured it
around my wife’s neck, a peace offering. I could see her looking at me

Mesmerized, I couldn’t stop staring at it. The answer to our prayers –
so to speak – given to me on a borrowed boat. This brought me back to
reality. It must have been meant for Nikos to find, not me. The
thought pierced me like a knife. By this time, I had turned the boat
around. Numerous belfries were pointing upwards. I fought with the
currents and with myself.

I knew she’d kill me if I kept it; she’d kill me if I didn’t. And this
was the first time I set foot in a Church.

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Tiny Red Seeds . by Doug Bond

Mom found the place within a week, so I could start with the rest of
the kids. We rented it from the builder, a guy named Tazza, who had a
very good reputation. The day we moved in, there were tractor marks
where the front lawn should have been.

School was a couple blocks away. First time she forgot my lunch I ran
home during recess to get it. Tazza was coming out our front door and
looked surprised to see me. “Libby!” he said, and then sang “How much
wood can a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

He didn’t wait for an answer, but got into his truck, laughing so loud
it kind of surprised me into laughing too. I loved that
tongue-twister. We had a set of pillows embroidered with the words
spread across them in my room.

Inside, the sound of water was rushing in the walls. On the floor of
mom’s room was a small pile of stuff from the costume box: black
stockings, little skinny heeled shoes and the six-foot long pink
feather boa she’d gotten me for Halloween.

The shower stopped and I turned, knocking over the gigantic flower
vase filled with crimson dried sunflowers, reeds and cattails standing
by the door

“Are you still out there Jim Tazza?”

When she stepped naked into the hall I was on my knees filling the
quiet with the rasping dry crackle of tiny red seeds being picked up
off the floor.

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Just a moment . by Barbara-Lucy Hosken

She was on the descending escalator
in the arms of another man
when he saw her
tears stung his eyes
he looked away

She saw him
on the ascending escalator
called his name again and again
everyone looked
except him.

He stared ahead
quelling his desire
to leap the barrier
like a romantic hero
Prentending not to recognise
her voice
Refusing to respond
to his name
or her closeness-
they could have touched.

Eyes brimming with tears
She looked at him
saw his pain
knew his hurt

He glided away
merging with the crowd.

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I was here . by Walter Bjorkman

Your father was killed in a different war than my past lover.

Otherwise, we would feel the same about this personal one that you say we will, must get into — for you feel that you have a noble cause deep within that you think I also have, but that I do not, cannot possess.

Everything happens for a reason, you say, there are no coincidences.

This might happen, or not, I say, there are no no coincidences.

I will meet you tonight and we will finally have this out and you will see you will never leave, you said.

I am here, what happened to you?

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Same Old Song and Dance . by John Wentworth Chapin

Sundown on a resort balcony; lazy waves purred below. “You don’t believe in fate? Still?” Sand dusted the tops of Sam’s feet which rested on the railing.

“We found each other, sure, against all odds.” Ty chewed on a gin-soaked lime peel.

“That sounds like an accident. My head and my pants say this is fate.”

“Fate is 31 flavors and you end up with a tasty but random scoop. But you haven’t had the other 30 to know the difference. Choice is… a whole mall that only sells socks and you try them all on and there’s only one pair that fits. You, my dear man, are my pair.”

“You want to get laid talking socks.”

Ty shrugged. “I’m getting laid no matter the topic.”



Sam grunted and cracked a smile.

Ty breathed in salt and contentment. “You want to believe we were put together by the universe. Forces coming together to create us. The universe doesn’t care, my love.” Ty leaned over and pecked Sam on the cheek. “But I do.”

“You want to believe you had a choice in the matter.”

“You want me to say that thirty-one years together is someone or something else’s doing? Nope.”

“I think we had this same disagreement on our twenty-third anniversary. Italy.” Sam said.

Ty shook his head and tapped Sam’s foot with his toe. “Twentieth. Aruba.”

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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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52|250 thanks our flash contributor Al McDermid, for the use of his collage “Panel 3.7” as this week’s art.

This is not solely my art, but is a collaborative collage created in conjunction with 6 other artists (I was #7 on this piece). The others all do amazing work, links to which  you can see on the post.

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Filed under Wk #41 - Coincidence