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.

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.

 

The Existential Futurist: A Flash Memoir

Age 35

2015. At home. On my cell phone with Adam.

“Alright,” I said. “So are robots going to take our place as artists?”

“No,” Adam said. “Humans will always have a need to produce art.”

“Yeah, but they might be better at it. Then my writing will look like a kid did it and not mean as much.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Age 13

1993. Sleepover at Jake’s. The first person I knew to have the internet. We saw Jurassic Park, the summer’s highest grossing film, for third time earlier that day. We’d been in online chat-rooms since we’d gotten back.

“I’m just scared,” I said.

“About what?” Jake said.

“Cause when I’m a movie director. Cause everyone’s going to be on the internet and there won’t be movies anymore.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You don’t?”

“No, people are always gonna want to go to the movies.”

I looked to the computer screen. Five more people entered the chat-room.

“Yeah, maybe,” I said. “I don’t know.”

Age 35 continued

“Yeah,” I said. “but look at what androids do now. And look at how fast it got like that in twenty years.”

“But they won’t be human,” Adam said.

“Well, what’s human? Whatever it is they might be able to reproduce it. We’ll be obsolete.”

“No, it’ll be alright.”

I looked to my computer screen. The news app said that the fourth Jurassic Park film is the fastest grossing film for the summer.

“Yeah, maybe,” I said. “I don’t know.”