4 flash stories
by Edward Mullany
Edward Mullany is the author of If I Falter at the Gallows, Figures for an Apocalypse, and The Three Sunrises (Publishing Genius Press). He is also the creator of the comic strips Rachel and Ben, and Excerpts from a Boring Man's Diary. He is the recipient of a Barthelme Fellowship from the Inprint Foundation, and his writing has been included in a Norton anthology of flash fiction, and in other journals.
At a certain time in my life, when I was already an adult, I decided to take piano lessons, thinking, I suppose, that if I did something new, and disrupted the pattern or habit that my days seemed to have assumed, I might feel a little happier than I’d been feeling, though after a few lessons at the apartment of the old woman whose advertisement I’d seen on a bulletin board at a café in the neighborhood in which she lived, and that I sometimes happened to be in, I realized the lessons were not making me happier, but were making me sadder. And so I stopped taking them.
One day, after I’d picked up our daughter from school, and I’d turned around to make sure she’d buckled her seatbelt, though I hadn’t yet put the car in gear and started driving, I heard her say, “Mommy, why were you crying?” which surprised me, not because I hadn’t been crying, but because I’d finished crying before she’d exited the school, and had looked at my face in the rear view mirror several times, and had wiped my eyes and had regained my composure, so that I’d assumed that she wouldn’t have been able to tell.
A Story Without Dogs
I’d noticed that in many of the stories I’d been writing a dog would make an appearance, not so much as a main character, but as a friend or a companion to a main character, and so, while I saw no reason why dogs should not be in the stories I was writing, for a time I made an effort to exclude them from the ones I was yet to write, because I did not want dogs to become so prevalent in my stories that they amounted to a sort of necessity, or crutch, that I could not do without, when trying to imagine the world in which the stories I wanted to write were taking place.
While Scrolling Through My Phone
My daughter’s birthday party is over, the last of the parents have arrived to pick up their children, and now I am sitting in an armchair in the TV room, where the balloons and wrapping paper still are, and where my daughter has fallen asleep on the floor in a patch of sunlight that, each time I look in my daughter’s direction, has moved just a little, with the angle of the sun that is coming through the windows, until finally my daughter is no longer in the patch of sunlight at all, or it is no longer on her, though in her sleep she seems not to have noticed.