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Stewing Hot Car
As he drove, the colors of signs flashed by Jack’s eyes, familiar signs he had seen all his life. Pete’s Automotive looked just as run down as ever, and Jack wondered how they even managed to stay above water. There couldn’t have been more than two dozen vehicles worth looking at in Terville, Alabama, anyway.
Jack fiddled with the Dodge Stratus’s Air Conditioning controls for a few seconds, then gave up. The AC hadn’t worked in four years, and pressing the button again wouldn’t fix it. He laid back, resigned to the fact that he would sweat through his church clothes yet again.
“Would you quit messing with that thing? You’re gonna make it worse,” Diane said. She tugged at the collar of her puffy blue dress and lay back in the front seat, trying to keep her face away from those unforgiving rays of sunlight. Her silver chain and cross lay against her chest, moving up and down with her breathing.
Jack turned to regard her. His anger diminished at the image of his wife’s necklace upon her partially exposed breasts. After a moment, he shook away the feeling.
“Can’t make something worse if it’s already broken,” Jack said. He turned back to the road, his face making an unconscious grimace.
After an uncomfortable silence, Jack said, “Where do you want to eat?” He knew what the answer would be. What it always was.
“It doesn’t matter, just wherever.” She always did this, every single week. Thinking about it made Jack even more angry.
“It does matter, and you know it. Just tell me where you want to go,” Jack said. His thumb tapping against the wheel, keeping rhythm to his heart’s angry thumps.
Diane sat up a bit to look at Jack with narrow eyes. “What’re you getting at? I said I don’t care. So, I don’t care.” She laid back down as she said it, as if she realized halfway through that she just didn’t have enough energy to fight. She wiped sweat off of her forehead.
Jack knew better than to respond. He pulled off the road into a Denny’s and parked. Diane pretended not to notice and kept her eyes closed.
“What I am getting at,” Jack said, “is that every Sunday, you tell me you don’t care where we go, and then you tell me halfway through dinner that you wished we had gone somewhere else. And you hold it against me all day that I didn’t just know what you wanted. Just tell me what you want in the first place.”
By the end of it, Jack had raised his voice much more than he had intended. When he looked to Diane, his heart fell a bit, because her face hadn’t changed at all. She was used to his outbursts now. They didn’t even phase her.
“Denny’s,” Diane said.
“I want to eat at Denny’s.”
“Now, that’s just crap. We ate here last week, and you hated it, and you took it out on me. Plus, today’s service went longer than usual. It’s almost 2pm. I don’t want breakfast.” Jack tried to add a note of finality to his words, but instead they came out sounding whiney and childish.
More awkward silence.
Diane said, “What do you want, Jack?”
Jack put his face in his hands, which made him sweat even more. What did he want? After five minutes of stewing in the car, he still didn’t know the answer. He wiped off his face, turned off the car, and opened the door.
With a heavy sigh, Jack said, “Denny’s is fine.”
-An excerpt from the autobiography of Jason Catty
They all ask me: What was it like? How did you stay sane?
Whoever said I was sane? Functional, sure, but I doubt very much that I am still sane. No one goes through that and comes out the same person.
And they want me to explain to them, in excruciating detail, what it was like to be stuck in the dark for a year. How stupid. How full of useless thoughts their minds must be to not comprehend the idea of nothing, or to expect me to be able to describe it to them. How do you describe emptiness to an empty mind? If they do not understand it by now, they never will.
But, for social etiquette, I appease them with another story, for describing my deliverance from such a fate is much more interesting and simple enough for their feeble brains to comprehend. I tell them this:
I heard the footsteps of my rescuers first, but it wasn’t until I saw the light- that single beam of glorious, blinding, searing light- that I realized the truth of my rescue. And every time, my questioners fail to understand why I am angry at my saviors. They cannot grasp it. My hope is that you will understand the irony- and my rage-
For, in the moment I was to be saved from the darkness and brought back into the light, I was doomed to live in darkness for eternity.
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Josh Thor is currently studying toward his BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. His work mostly focuses on the fantasy/adventure genre, and he is currently working on his first full novel.
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This book is a compilation of two of my favorite flash/micro fictions, both authored by myself, Josh Thor. This compilation includes: "Stewing Hot Car" and "The Rescue" Please enjoy.