Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Flash Fiction: Suzanne Nielsen

Faces Appear Before A Notary

Rita Sajevic lost her mind on a cloudy Columbus Day six years into the new millennium. Intentions were to stabilize her mid-life crises as she had two job interviews that morning, four hours apart, within 12 miles from her residence. All this was written down on the palm of her hand.

Rita’s cat had not come home the night before and its water bowl sat tepid and full. She went to the window of her apartment that looked out into a quiet street, trees now naked from the recent heavy winds, and she remembered that her cat was livid this time of year. Rita’s cat lived to kill Blue jays.

As she prepared to print out an extra copy of her resume right before leaving that morning something snapped. Instead she slipped out the back door with her Notary Public stamp that was soon to expire, and a ream of typing paper.

She carefully placed the ream of paper in the passenger seat next to her, looped the seatbelt underneath, and put her notary stamp in the glove compartment. She thought about locking the glove compartment, but she couldn’t think of why that would be important. Rita adjusted the mirrors in accordance with her slumped posture. As she fumbled with the rearview mirror she noticed her aging forehead and the white roots of her red hair growing out to tell the truth. She wasn’t a true redhead at all. She hadn’t fooled Jane Moravia. Jane stood across the counter and sold Rita her bottled red dye for over thirteen years at Guertin Drug on the corner of Pleasant view Drive. She wondered if she ought to drive by Guertin’s and tell Jane she was partaking in two interviews this day, and one of them would promise her a future. Rita thought she remembered that Jane Moravia recently had a tumor removed from her left foot, or was it her right, and boasting never won out in the end.

Instead she drove to the corner gas station and attempted to put air in her tank and gas in her tires. A bell on the glass door cha-chinged as an attendant left the tiny building that housed him and a miniature wall of dried goods and beverages.

“Ma’am, I can pump your gas for you if you’d like,” he said, a kid of about seventeen. Rita ignored the young man and returned the gas nozzle to its holster. She slipped on the pavement’s gas glaze before reaching her driver’s door and almost disappeared under her

“Let me help you,” said the young man and that’s when it happened; him on all fours with a face completely notarized in runny black ink.

With the stamp back in the glove compartment, Rita straightened her skirt and adjusted the mirror one more time. In the background she could see a cat carrying a bird in its mouth. She started up the ignition and thought about locking the glove compartment but couldn't think of why.

~ Suzanne Nielsen is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, teaches writing at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and at Metropolitan State University. Her poetry, fiction and essays appear in literary journals nationally and internationally; some of these include The Comstock Review, The Copperfield Review, Mid-America Poetry Review, The Pedestal, and The 13th Warrior Review, among others.

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