by Anna Cabe
Sisters alone with two shadows unfurling behind them. Sisters with shovels digging, sand falling like snowflakes over broiled shoulders. Sisters burying toys—a Happy Meal Batman, a matchbox car stolen from the boy next door, a miniature submarine from a Cap’n Crunch box, a pinky-sized Polly Pocket—in the collapsing holes. Sisters pushing sand over them, grains caught under their nails. Sisters pouring buckets of water, splattering the yellow sand brown. Sisters crooning grandmother’s secret songs, salt drying on their lips. Sisters stepping back, fingers laced. Sisters waiting. Sisters waiting. Sisters waiting. Sun setting. Sun setting in the ocean, staining the blue water orange. Sisters watching the mounds rise. Sisters watching the hills crack open. Sisters watching Batman, the car, the submarine, Polly Pocket, rise from the earth. Sisters dwarfed by Batman, the car, the submarine, Polly Pocket. Sisters watching Batman slide into the car. Sisters watching Polly climb into the submarine. Sisters following Batman and Polly when they beckon, fingers crooked. Sisters releasing each other’s hand. One sister sliding into the car. Other sister climbing into the submarine. One sister disappearing into the glistering waves. Other sister speeding onto the graveled road. Followed by white foam. Followed by dust clouds.
I was inspired by Fatimah Asghar's prompt, which I found while trying to write a flash fiction piece for workshop. The seed is a memory that couldn't have happened, and the prompt requires you to take an image from the imagined memory and push it beyond everyday reality.
I wanted to write something that wasn't in my wheelhouse, something that was closer to poetry. I wanted the language, the rhythm, to complement and heighten the story's unreal events into a fever-dream. Blink once, there are two girls on an ordinary beach. Blink twice, and you'll see something askew, unfamiliar, magical.
Anna Cabe is an MFA candidate in fiction at Indiana University and the web editor of the Indiana Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Toast, Gingerbread House, Reservoir, Racialicious, Cease, Cows, and tiny poetry: macropoetics, among others. She was a 2015 Kore Press Short Fiction Award semifinalist and a finalist for the 2015 Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers. You can find Anna on Twitter @annablabs.