My flash fiction story, The Stranger, was published in Pure Slush’sAppointment at 10.30 Anthology Vol.22 of stories, essays, and poetry, together with the works of many talented writers and poets. Many thanks to Matt Potter, writer and editor of Pure Slush, who kindly edited and accepted my story.
The link to the book is as follows:
And here’s the full story, if you wish to read it:
Snowflakes dance in the air as she leaves home for her appointment at 10.30 and walks to the underground station. False alarm, she thinks. It hasn’t snowed in town for the last three years. Can’t blame climate change for this, but the massive wall of tall buildings that interrupt the flow of air from the north into the city’s heart.
The snow whirls as she approaches the station and skips down the steps. Rushing through the turnstiles, she catches the red train heading to town centre. Settled on an empty seat, she closes her eyes and ponders. How would she know him? Was that a real photo on his profile? How does one deal with virtual friends? He’d said he’d be carrying a copy of The Stranger in his hand. She’d said she’d be holding a red umbrella.
By the time she steps onto the platform at Taksim Square, she’s decided to hide the foldable umbrella in her backpack. She could stop somewhere and observe the passers-by discreetly. As the steep escalator rises to ground level, she has doubts about her plan. The rectangular opening at ground level reveals a shower of fine, persistent snow and behind that, a granite sky. Pulling the hood of her coat, she fastens its cords tightly around her neck. Hands in pockets, she ambles around the square, several times, as people scurry about, fight with their umbrellas, hail cabs, and grope in different directions as though visually impaired. Her movements are similar until she stops beside a concrete box containing withered plants in pots. Behind her, the ghost of Gezi Park peeks at intervals through a white curtain; facing her, the twinkling lights of the Marmara Hotel invite her inside. She takes refuge in the coffee shop. Sipping a hot drink, enjoying a delicious piece of chocolate cake, she laughs at herself. The Stranger probably couldn’t make it, and if he did, he’d never find her. Just as well.
Wrapped up in her coat, she heads back to the underground. Wading through the crowds, she steps onto the packed train, squeezing between passengers in wet coats. As the wagon jerks, she grips the back of a seat, and finds her balance. Someone pats her arm. A young man rises and offers her his seat. Grateful, she sits and taking a deep breath, places her backpack on her lap. She watches the commuters disperse as the train stops at various stations. The young man stands by the door, holding onto a pole and tapping at his phone. Well-dressed, clean shaven, and attractive. How come she never meets guys like this? He catches her gaze and smiles. She looks away and closes her eyes. Three more stations to go, she could doze off. She wakes as her station is announced. Someone else is holding the pole while standing beside the door. She finds a note attached to her bag. ‘Sleeping beauty, call me if you want…’
A blizzard carpets the sky as she steps outside. She opens her red umbrella to shield her face from the whips of snow, and negotiates the pavement, eyes on the ground. Once inside the compound, she runs through the portico to the front door. As she enters the flat, the aroma of a familiar dish fills her nostrils.
“Mum, I’m home.”
“I’m in the bedroom.”
Her mother peeks above her reading glasses. “I was getting worried. Glad you’re home safely. It’s treacherous outside.”
“I know. What’s for lunch, soup with meatballs?”
“Indeed, the remedy for cold weather. Any news about your interview?”
“Not until next week. I’m not sure I’ll be accepted. Probably there are many who are more qualified than me.”
“Do you want this job?”
“Then you’ll get it, I’m sure. If not, you’ll find something else close to your heart.”.
“I hope so, Mum.” She steps to the window and looks outside. A blanket of snow covers the trees and the bushes in the garden. “Even the ugly blocks next door look prettier now. Nature is clever in its ways, but not with Taksim Square. It’s so barren, hostile, just a vast rectangle of concrete. I felt like a stranger there today.”
“I can imagine. There are no trees or flower beds anymore. Things change, but your memories don’t. No one can take them away from you.”
“I know. It used to be a special place for me. The parades Dad used to take me to there. The park no longer resembles the one in my childhood.”
“Perhaps, they’ll change it back once they get tired of the concrete. What were you doing there in this weather?”
“Meeting friends from a book club. It wasn’t so bad when I left. I didn’t think it would snow. I thought that was another thing of the past.”
“There you go…”
She lies in bed, thinking of the stranger. Would she call him? Call a stranger? Why not, she wonders. She had seen him standing before her, in flesh and blood. The other was only a virtual one.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Here ‘s a love story from me, first published at SickLit Magazine, then in my Anthology, Ripples on the Pond. Many thanks to the Editor, Kelly Coody for having faith in me. 🙂
The islands lie in the water, like dinosaurs sleeping, their heads and tails concealed. Their backs forming the contours of the seascape.
I know there’s no water there, otherwise they’d be inhabited. Maybe a good thing, saving nature from mankind’s destruction. Not much vegetation can be observed from afar, either. Perhaps some bushes that can last the heat of the summer months without rain.
On the shore, I see pebbles of all colours. Emerald green, ruby pink, cobalt blue. They shine like precious gems. Once I take them out of the water, their colours go dull. I know this, because I fell in love with them and took them home, but they weren’t the same. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have, and should have left them in their own natural environment. Perhaps that’s what I did with you, and that’s why you stopped shining.
I must not be a hoarder, a collector of pebbles with attractive hues. The colours depend on the light and water. Their nourishment. Once the circumstances change, the pebbles change their nature. Is that why you changed as well?
I’ll return the pebbles where they belong. I’ll watch them from afar. I don’t wish to possess them, but to see them alive.
Many thanks to The Rye Whiskey Review for including my flash fiction story, Exodus. So now I’m officially a Whiskey person! Cheers! 🙂
As the website is on Blogspot, I can’t re-blog it. So, I’ll just post the first paragraph here and then the link to the story.
Exodus by Sebnem E. Sanders
He walked into the bar, and set the room on fire. A magnet that pulled me into his dark eyes. I tried to look away, but his gaze held me captive and stripped me bare. A force I could not resist. A friend mouthed something, yet I had become deaf and blind to anything except his presence. Surrendering to the magical glow and the current that washed me to his shore, I became his satellite.
One never knows when one is safe in life. I’m sitting in my lounge, with the aircon on, while an inferno builds around me. Outside the temperature is 42+ C, inside, a comfortable 26C. But then it all depends on the electric company, doesn’t it? Once they decide it’s safer to cut my power, I’ll be immersed into the heat. Once the wind turns, from the east to the west, I’ll sit in the middle of the flames burning the pine tree covered hills around me.
Where would I go? Into the pool, I’m thinking, but would I have to stay underwater while the inferno takes me hostage? For how long? Will I survive? Who knows?
This is the fourth day of the fire. No, it’s not a bush fire. I know this for certain. I’ve lived here for the last 11 years, and never seen anything like this. Usually, the fires are local, and firefighters put them out in a few hours. This is different, deliberate, mean and calculated. Set ablaze in various spots. Mankind is the cruellest creature on the planet.
The villages are left on their own. Their livestock, greenhouses, homes, and fields at the mercy of the flames. There is no state, authority to protect them. The president visits the disaster sites in a convoy of hundreds of cars and throws tea bags out of the window. Not flowers, not water, but teabags…
Have I come here to die in an Inferno? I do not know. I miss my hometown, but I also got accustomed to this place which has given me hope. A fake hope, perhaps. Hope is a wish that keeps us going.
At dusk, the scenery resembles an apocalypse, a blood red sky, smell of burning, and the death of the forest. Hot winds blow ash and burnt pine needles everywhere.
In daytime, driving through the once thick woodland, the ghosts of pine trees lament their lost glory. No more the rich green against the azure sky. Only carcasses in brown, dead and dying, weeping. I weep for them, and all the creatures who have lost their homes and perished. It seems it takes 50-60 years for a forest to recover its ecosystem. The flora and the fauna that provide livelihood to the locals. I won’t be around then, but I have seen the best. No one can burn my memories.
So, I wait for fate to turn its wheels. As far as my view and binoculars allow, I watch the forest day and night, to spot intruders with heinous motives. Will the wind change, the power cut, or will I be saved, redeemed, and perhaps understand what I’ve come to learn in this life.
Death was an inelegant solution to an elegant game, an imperfect answer to the most perfect of all solutions. Yet here, Death held no sway.
Memories were never my forte. I remembered in fits and starts, never then till now, nor here to there. I recalled moments, or fragments of moments, nothing more, like a jigsaw turned upside down and with no means of reference to piece it back together. This was how the first conjunction occurred, grey on black, black on grey, always white in-between.
The small, white bird was not a creature of feathers and pumping blood, but of glazed porcelain with a copper beak. It sang, though, trilled its little metal heart out. It sang and sang and sang.
I put the bird in my pocket only to realise many years later, when next I checked, that it had a hole. I panicked then, something to…
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