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The End is Nigh–Best Flash Closers

November 9, 2013

TheEndIsNear

When starting out as writers many of learn to stop overdoing last lines. A commonly heard reproach in the writing workshop is ‘make every line as resonant as the last one.’ And many great writers of flash have learned this lesson. Thoroughly.

While scanning through the digital logs of some of the very best places for flash, I was astonished at how many closing lines were pert, apt, nearly pedestrian when considered all by their lonesome. And yet so very powerful in context.

Ah well, with apologies to those numerous and talented flash writers, this post is about finales that leave you gobsmacked in your nightshirt, gasping for breath, wondering at the chirping little cartoon blue birds in sparkling orbit around your head.

Here are some of them:

Moon Time” by Bob Thurber from Word Riot

And it’s then you remember — just the edges, the brittle parts, fleeting as a half forgotten dream – the rest too hokey, too sentimental, too precious to share.

Bed of Roses” by Danielle Allen from Word Riot

The flowers that grew up the fence beamed at me. Something good had come of him. He’d always hated roses. ‘Expensive, ugly and full of crap—just like you.’ he’d said. His anger couldn’t fight through the layers of mud. His fists melted and burst, like my face had before. That bright, warm Thursday in May, I smiled, and it finally felt natural.

Lineage” by Alex McElroy from decomP

As we trod on, I snuck an occasional peek at Great-Grandpa, who—way up high and jostled by wind—appeared to be waving the flag, waving with an unbroken swagger unique to the dead.

Abide with Me” by Joe Plicka from Booth

Left there, some empty bucket of roofing tar or deck paint. And I got curious and tipped the lid off. And inside was a wet, brown, writhing preponderance of maggots. And I didn’t recoil. And I could still hear the white scraping of waves across the street, and nothing rustled, and my kids were inside watching cartoons, and all I could think was how. And, how did they find me here?

Claudia and the Fish-Exhausted Mother” by Lindsay Herko from Sundog Lit

Yet none of this determination mattered. She was locked up in the bewilderment of a psychological bugaboo. It was like sexuality and sea scenery were about to take a shit on her kitchen counter and all monies collected for perms and crackers would be left unturned until a mermaid put them in her clichéd conch change purse.

FM 104” by Kathryn Schwille from Memorious

What could we do? The stuff was everywhere, light as paper, heavy as brick. We set up roadblocks where it littered our highways. Our children played at searching. For what? A nose cone? A fuel cell? An instrument panel? Coyotes, weasels, green flies, crows. For weeks, we walked with our heads down. Watching, watching, where we walked.

Breathing Underwater” by Jon Pearson from Citron Review

Then suddenly I saw my father’s shoes sitting on the bottom of a lake and knew or felt or saw, right there in my throat, my daddy and mommy were going to get a divorce. And I knew it. Sure as ice cream and shoes, I knew it. And instead of growing wings and flying, I grew long, secret neck gashes because I would have to learn how to breathe underwater for a long, long time, and the water would swallow me, swallow me all up, like a spider eating a mouse.

A Country Woman” by Monica McFawn from Passages North

Will she be back? Hers is the most palpable of absences, a not-aroundness so forceful that even her yard, left intact, is ragged as if something has been rent from it—the pond and roosters and wheelbarrows seem too small for the space they take up, rattling stand-ins for something larger that once fit flush. The neighbors open their windows and beat their drapes with brooms and look around as if relieved, but there is a great unease. You can avoid the country woman but not her absence.

It’s Your Party” by Wendy Ralph from A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

     I let the guests out, eventually. They form a glad line at the door and I thank them one by one…the smiling boss who smells of expensive cologne, the older woman from accounting who gushes about your beauty, the guy in a pinstriped suit that pats my shoulder and asks me to give you the gift he’s brought. I let them out. I let them out like hostages. They burst through the threshold, spill into the road. I watch them go. I stand there a long time before closing the door. I cover the cake for you, try to clean up the mess. I poke tiny holes with an eyetooth in the slack spots of the balloons, just beside their knotted necks. They hiss faintly and shrivel, but even then there’s no relief, the cruel echo of “surprise!” reverberating through the desolate house, diluting the air until it is thin and sallow again.
And the door of your room opens like a palm.

Sometimes We Both Fight in Wars” by Leesa Cross Smith from SmokeLong Quarterly

His heart is a heavy, loaded gun he hands over to me, lets me spin on my finger. Wait don’t shoot. The overgrown garden of what we don’t say, fecund in our hothouse mouths. Every kiss is a war. I write ask me again, yes on a piece of paper, burn it in a jar. I write sometimes we both fight in wars on the bathroom mirror in cherry blossom-pink lipstick; wine-breath-whisper it into his ear while he’s sleeping.

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