A Little Fresh Air

By Sean Craven

Her voice drills in from the living room, where she’s sitting in front of the computer, watching movies on her tablet while she plays video poker. “You’re going to clean the kitchen, right?”

Hold still. Do not grip the glass, do not punch the cupboard. Don’t throw anything.

Be quiet.


She chirps out, reflexive as a parakeet, “Honey? Are you there?”

Breathe. “I’ve been cleaning the kitchen.” That was very good! You’re using your indoor voice. “You saw me.”

“I know, I just wanted to know,” she says. Then, “Oh, shit.”

Close dishwasher. Dry hands. Draw the left leg to the body, claw the air with both hands, bob silently on one leg and chew open mouthed. Straighten up and dry your hands.

Walk into the living room. Say, “Sweetie, I’m going out.”

She keeps her back to you; video poker, When Harry Met Sally, and her cell phone - probably talking to her mom, cheating at the poker. When she speaks, she sounds vulnerable and defiant and tired. You know just how she feels. “I just wanted to know if the kitchen was going to be clean.”

Be cool. Breathe.

Not so much drama with the breathing, dumbshit, you are trying to defuse the situation. “We aren’t fighting. I’m not mad at you. I’m just having a hard afternoon.”

Still looking at the screens, she says, “Okay.”

Get your fucking shoes on, and lock the door on your way out. Off the porch and onto the street. The crows are screaming, and wouldn’t that be the way to do it, just walk down the street screaming at the top of your lungs, staring people right in the face with your mouth wide open howling. Direct, honest, human communication.

Too bright out here. Should have worn sunglasses. And sweet fucking Jesus, would you look at them drive? Pick a lane, you drunk piece of shit. They let anyone drive, and the death toll lets you know. At least it’s not San Francisco, you’d think they had a bounty on pedestrians over there...

Christ, and will you look at that. That dude might be the most stunning world-class worthless piece of egregious shit you have ever seen. Texting while riding a bike no-handed on the sidewalk, flip-flops and no shirt, blonde dreads halfway down his back, sporting a fucking NO FEAR tattoo that needs to be rendered ironic. He is going to sail right through that red light, isn’t he?

Oh, holy fuck, he shook out a yo-dude shaka-bra hand gesture at the drivers as he went in front of them. Didn’t even flinch. Shameless fuck. Let’s think about a stick in his spokes for a while, shall we? Skrinch, whack, thump. Wasn’t that soothing? Skrinch, whack, thump. Don’t you feel better now? And when he’s on the ground, you can beat him until his texture changes, then go home and mellow out with some of the kind bud he no doubt has in the pocket of his stupid fucking cargo shorts.

Bet he thinks he’s some kind of artist. Hope the fucker beat-boxes, that’s exactly what that peckerheaded Trustafarian deserves.

Oh, no. No, no, no. Lady, are you eating out of a cereal bowl parked in your cleavage while you drive? That isn’t bad judgment, that’s fucking pathology, that’s how you wind up being able to park a fucking cereal bowl in your cleavage. That’s the thing to see right before you get run over, a fucking bowl of cereal hitting the inside of a windshield.

Now cleavage is ruined. What are they going to ruin next, dinosaurs and chainsaws? Fuck it, if cleavage doesn’t want to function properly it’s time to head home.

These self-important muscleheads who wander all over the fucking sidewalk while they talk on their fucking headsets need to be eliminated. Anyone who talks to themselves in public is fucking nuts and needs to be locked up for their own fucking good. That is the law, or so you understand...

No, don’t get out of his way. He can see you and he is on the wrong fucking side of the sidewalk. Fucking bully. He is trying to bully you.

He is actually walking right into you. Stare at him. Don’t let him ignore you or pretend you’re stepping out of the way because you’re scared. That is how a person loses face, and you don’t have any to spare.

Why does he look surprised? Fucker. Wouldn’t it be nice to put your fingers in his eyes and dial his face like a rotary phone, fucking steroid freak, one good kick to the shins, when he lifts that leg go for the other one, when he’s down on the ground fucking kneedrop him, full weight in freefall, then bite his fucking nose off and hold your hand over the hole, stare in his eyes while he drowns in his own blood that arrogant piece of fucking cell-phone talking sidewalk-hogging shit...

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog

Up the steps and open the door, and her little voice chirps out bright as could be, “So are you feeling better?”

Oh, God.

Oh, God! How could... What kind of person asks a question like that?

What kind of monster have you married?

If you enjoyed A Little Fresh Air you can buy the e-book of Flash Fiction Fest 2013 "Deadly Sins" for Kindle, iBooks or Google Play.

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