Flash fiction from Peter Crowley


     The child, borne of passion, leapt into llamas, arms flailing in the watery womb and tentacles clinging to amniotic sac. He looked to the cervix and saw an opening chamber that’d lead to a vast wilderness of bird chirps, Led Zeppelin, curious cat eyes, mother-father fights, grandparent cuddles, strolling on sidewalk, passing houses and people in spring gardens, squirrels scurrying across the path, a passerby gazing down into stroller. Was there ever crying. 

 gods return

The rain takes pain 
to remind us of its downfall:
gravity’s water pellets 
cascading on luminous roofs – 
a termite with a million
cinder block legs?

Outside, droplets on skin, 
at first isolated then
new liquid skin forms
Clothes dampen
and deluged
The car ride, a windshield wiper
battle for clarity
Destination reached and
inside the gods’ heavy insect legs
barrel down upon roof

a comfort in knowing
that the gods 
have returned
from intergalactic travel

gazes exchanged with
passersby confirm that 
we’re no longer desolate
amidst ice shapes, carving
cathedral spaces on websites
and requesting sunny days 
from Alexa


“What’s happening?” asked Sheryl Marley.
“Sorry, it’s just not working anymore,” Mary Kelly said, peering into her laptop.
“But I’m interesting!”  
Sheryl glanced out from the laptop, took a pocket knife from her jeans pocket and rolled up her right sleeve. She pressed down on the blade and ran it across her forearm. Blood oozed out.

“That’s just a flesh wound. It’ll heal in no time. And there’s nothing in the story that would drive you to do that.”
“We can make something up. Let’s brainstorm!”
Mary went to her office window. A postwoman had opened the mailbox and left a few envelopes inside. Mary raced outside and brought in the mail.

“Just as I thought,” she muttered, seated back at laptop and glancing at a piece of mail from Sheryl, with the return address: “City Library, Midwest, USA 12345.”
“How’d you pull that off?” Mary asked.
“You know what. Sending me mail.”
“I have my ways.”
“That’s strange. It just shouldn’t happen.”
“Did you open it?”

Mary looked down to the envelope and hesitated. She thought back to the time Sheryl went into a post office in Chapter 4. It was first written it as a botched robbery that Sheryl witnessed. Mary changed the scene but never had the chance to clean it up. During the chaos, Sheryl must’ve conned a postal worker into sending a special kind of mail.
Mary opened the envelope. The header read:

 Followed by, “you end working on the beautifully-written story of Sheryl Marley’s search for meaning and love.”
“Search for meaning? Really?” Mary asked, scrolling through the story.
“Yeah, I know you didn’t add that part yet, but I thought it would be a nice touch.”
“It doesn’t have to be about meaning. You could change me into a naughty school girl-type who hasn’t grown up yet…That would be fun.”
“For whom? You? You’re a quiet bookworm-type who’s always in the library reading medieval literature. You love Gargantua and Pantagruel – you’re not the ‘fun’ type.”

“I just don’t know if that’s who I really am.”
“You’re exactly who I say you are.”
“Who reads medieval literature? I don’t want to be a bore!”
“Well, it goes with the character.”
“Not if I have any say in it!”
“That’s the thing, you don’t!”
“Isn’t that authoritarian? I really didn’t think you were that person.”
“I can’t control anything else in my life, at least I can control you!”
Sheryl closed her eyes. Facing upward, she put up her hands, miming being handcuffed. 
“Fine, take me!”
“I’ll do exactly that!”
Mary highlighted the entire story and pounded ‘Delete’.

Peter F. Crowley is an independent writer from the Boston area. His poetry book Those Who Hold Up the Earth was released by Kelsay Books in 2020. Other work of his can be found in Pif Magazine, Galway Review, Opiate Magazine and Counterpunch, among other publications.