I remember when I lived in New York, a woman once said to me, "Everyone in New York thinks that everyone else is thinking about New York. But really, people in Texas, or Kansas, or Idaho are thinking about where they are. They're not thinking about New York." As a native-New Yorker, this comment really struck me. I was always told that I lived in the greatest place on earth. The idea that not everyone felt that way was (embarrassingly) news to me. I guess the more outside of New York I got, the more I did my best not to focus on location within stories. People seem to make immediate associations with certain places. These associations can be dangerous for writers. I certainly don't want my readers going into my stories already feeling too strongly one way or another about place. Also, within flash fiction, there's not that much space. If you use up some of your words with cities, sure, you might get a quick sketch of where the characters are, but you will also risk alienating some readers, or leaving others to rely on what they've seen in movies. Do you really have time to explain how this character sees/relates to Missoula? That said, I definitely do use place in some of my fiction. This piece just didn't seem to need it. Hookers are universal, no?
Sophie Rosenblum’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Short Fiction, Wigleaf, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Florida State University, and she is finishing her first novel, which was recently a finalist in the James Jones Novel Contest. You can find links to more of her work at sophierosenblum.com.
It would have been strange for the hooker to wake me with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt and mashed bananas cooing, “Wake up, sleepyhead,” the way my mom used to, but I wanted it anyway. Sure, we were in a car parked at least ten miles from the closest fridge, but she might have had something in her purse to tide me over into lunch - a Jolly Rancher or gum even. I worked hard at a job I hated, made my way through starched meetings filled with continental hellos, and then stayed nights with a small-fingered wife until I had to do it all again.
The hooker was in flats, which I knew were for running in case I was a freak or cop or something. You’d think by now she could pinpoint the cops, spoon-smooth bald, tight in their space even on empty stretches of highway. The freaks, I could never guess. One before me, she said, looked normal enough, but wanted her to pinch the bottoms of his feet. Said it reminded him of beachside summers spent in search of mollusks with his mother. I’d said, “A real sicko,” but in truth, when she’d told me, my eyes got kind of soggy at the thought.
by Sophie Rosenblum