The Bin: A Flash Memoir ©2018 by Marc Alexander Valle

“My mom says I gotta separate the laundry before we can play games,” Sal said. “Want to help?”

It was my first sleepover and this was new to me. My mom never let me touch the laundry. I said yes.

“Whites, darks, and lights,” he said. “That’s how you pile them up, Marc.”

I dug into one of the two bins that was closest to me.

This is dark.

Toss.

This is light.

Toss.

This is white.

Toss.

Until all three piles formed into mounds.

“You’re a liar,” he joked. “You’ve done this before.”

“Nah-uh. First time.”

This is dark.

Toss.

This is light

Toss.

This is white.

Holy snap! It’s got doo-doo on it!

Toss!

I backed away from the bin.

“What’s the matter?” Sal said, continuing his work.

“Nothing.”

“You’re not gonna help?”

“Yeah. I gotta go to the bathroom.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, can it wait? Just a little more, right?”

That had to be the only dirty underwear in there.

Maybe it was just a one-time thing.

“All right,” I said.

I stared at the bin. Another pair of white underwear stared back.

“It’s just clothes,” he said. “It’s not gonna bite.”

I couldn’t tell if it was soiled. It was too crumpled up. Not enough light.

I’ll grab the elastic. You can’t do boom-boom on the elastic.

“I’m done on my end,” he said. “Anymore?”

Maybe I can pretend I don’t see anything.

“What’s the matter, slowpoke?” he said, laughing.

I kept staring, debating, not wanting him to know that I knew.

“Marc, anymore?”

Nebe Nabe Veru ©2017 by Marc Alexander Valle

Jorge lied on the lawn face down, shirtless, feeling the funny feeling on his skin, thinking about how cows can eat grass but humans can’t, the sun blazing on his back. No parents home to say otherwise. No crying little sister. No older brother to call him weird.

And then the orange light shinned on the grass. He looked up as high as he could. A red orb floated before him. He froze. It approached him. His body shook. It hovered in front of him.

“Nebe nabe veru,” it said.

And the images flashed before his eyes:

His mother cut by the broken glass he forgot to pick up, cursing in Spanish.

His future wife.

His future children.

The catastrophic collapse of the world market.

His divorce.

His older brother’s incarceration.

His baby sister becoming a nun.

His mother’s final days.

His father’s heart attack.

His mother cut by the broken glass he forgot to pick up, cursing in Spanish.

Everything went black.

. . .

“Jorge. Get up,” his father said.

Jorge stood up, clippings covering his body.

“What are you doing?”

“Tanning,” Jorge said.

“What?”

“I saw it on TV.”

“On TV? Do they wash dishes on TV? Cause you’re grounded. Two hours we let you stay home and you can’t do abything around the house like we said?”

He peaked around his father. His older brother, David, stood smiling at him.

“Next time you go to church with us.”

“Damn it!” His mother walked onto the back patio, foot covered in blood. “I cut myself, Manny.”

. . .

Jorge and David sat in the hospital waiting room.

“Why you gotta be different?” David said.

“What?” Jorge said.

“All you had to do was go once and say it’s not for you. You think I believe in all that stuff?”

And then he thought about his brother’s future arrest, the wrong crowd that led to it, the drugs, the stealing, the lies to his parents and then the life sentence.

“You want to go looking for crawfish?” Jorge said.

“What?”

“At the creek. Remember we used to do that?”

“Crawfish? You’re thinking about crawfish?”

His brother stood up and started toward the bathroom. “You’re weird.”

Delicacy (Second Draft) ©2017

Words and image by Marc Alexander Valle.

The boy looked down at the worm, squirming on the backwoods trail. A ray of light illuminated its dark-pink hue and a warm breeze hit his face.

“Eat it,” she said. “I’ll kiss you.”

“No,” he said.

“Then no,” she said.

But he had wanted to kiss her all summer, floating in the deep end of the pool, bumping her hand at the movie theater as he reached for his soda, lying on the grassy field with the late-morning sun warming him enough to feel a sense of bliss.

He looked back down to the trail. The worm kept squirming and picking up dirt.

“It tastes like nothing,” she said. “Go ‘head.”

He thought of candy, then reached down and picked it up. He could feel the worm’s life force as it wiggled and expanded on his palm. “Candy would be pointless,” he thought, “It’s too fleshy.” He imagined roast chicken instead.

I’ve done it,” she said, “You won’t get sick.”

He popped the worm in his mouth.

He could feel it slither and contract.

The dirt turned to grim.

He attempted to limit the bug’s movement by controlling it with his tongue, the texture feeling like raw salmon, the taste reminding him of runny eggs.

He swallowed it and closed his eye. It slide down his throat quickly. He could feel it move. And like everything else he ate, the feeling disappeared just before reaching his stomach.

He opened his eyes and looked to her.

“Yuck,” she said.

He stepped forward and closed his eyes again.

His lips touched hers. But he felt nothing in return.

He held the kiss and waited for her to reciprocate. But he felt nothing in return.

He stepped forward and moved his face closer to hers. But he felt nothing in return.

He could feel nothing but dead lips, hear nothing but the cicadas and crickets chirping. Just the dead lips and live bugs and the hope of something in return.

She pulled away and jabbed his stomach.

“Gross,” she said, “I’m not kissing bugs.”

As he held onto his gut, crunched over, he could see her walk away down the path and out of sight.

The pain spread across his abdomen and he wasn’t sure if he needed to go to the bathroom. He could hear the birds singing and an animal moving in the brush. Sweat began to break out from his forehead.

He had to go home now. If he was late for dinner one more time, he’d be grounded.

Rays of light disappeared as a cloud rolled in. A cooler breeze hit his face. He inhaled a deep breath then let it out. He stepped forward onto the path.

Then he wondered what boy he’d get to tell first.

Ice Cream Party: A Flash Fiction

“Well,” my dad said, “you can’t just say that you don’t want to sing in the Christmas concert, Marc.”

“Why not?” I said.

“They’re not gonna like that. You’re gonna have to tell them that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.”

“What’s a Jehovah’s Witness?”

“Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas.”

I gave Mrs. Reed that excuse the next day.

 “I didn’t know you were Jehovah’s Witness,” she said. “But you pledge to the flag.”

“Yeah, my dad said that we’re not that kind of Jehovah’s Witness.”

“Alright, but there won’t be any ice cream party for you.”

Over the next few weeks, students taunted me:

“Ice cream parties are fun.”

“There’s gonna be music.”

“You don’t like ice cream?”

One week later, the entire class was treated to ice cream. Myself, the actual Jehovah’s Witnesses, and misbehaved students were sent to the cafeteria where we did school work.

“I wish we could be at the party,” Ralph said.

I looked up. “I don’t like ice cream.”

I continued working.

Delicacy ©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

(Published on The Drabble.)

He’d wanted to kiss her all summer. He looked at the worm, squirming.

“Eat it,” she said. “I’ll kiss you.”

“No,” he said.

“Then no,” she said.

He looked down at it.

“It tastes like nothing. Go ‘head.”

He thought of candy, then picked it up and swallowed it. He turned to her.

“Yuck,” she said.

He stepped forward and closed his eyes. His lips touched hers. He felt nothing in return. She pulled away and jabbed his stomach. “Gross. I’m not kissing bugs.”

She walked away.

He held his belly, wondering what boy he’d get to tell first.

The Chestnut (Longer Version)©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

The old man contemplated suicide. He would walk the park. Maybe change his mind.

Children played.

Mothers talked.

Dogs barked.

Fathers caught baseballs.

He still wanted death.

He turned to the creek and stepped on its bank. An object floated towards him, a squirrel clenching onto a chestnut. The old man bent down and held out his cane.  He leaned in as it neared. But the squirrel kept holding on to the chestnut.

The creek pulled the squirrel downstream. Then, submerged it.

Children played.

Mothers talked.

Dogs barked.

Fathers caught baseballs.

“Stupid animal,” a boy said. “Why do they do that?”

“Everybody’s gotta eat,” the old man said. “No matter how stupid you are.”

“I don’t get it.”

The old man turned away. “Sometimes you’re not supposed to.”

Both story and image by Marc Alexander Valle ©2016.

For the shorter, one-hundred word version of the story, click here, and please click ‘Like’ if you liked it.