Female Education
  Flash Fiction by Rita Ciresi
  Four Ways of Looking at a Wife Some Things You Can Ask Me Burned Lowlands
Disposal Bargains Office Party Old Flames On His Way to American History
Through the White & Drifted Snow Imaginative Writing Notes for a Very Long Love Story Female Education Maybe the Mermaids

  About the Author  |  echapbook.com  |  Summer 2019 Fiction Issue
 

Burned

This morning the Colonel returns from Rural King with a steel safe capable of withstanding 1550 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. Inside he places our life insurance certificates, car title, deed to the house, his discharge papers, and a copy of our last will and testament.

Anything else you can think of, Mother? he asks.

I shake my head.

He closes the safe and sets the combination with the three numbers of his birth date.

This afternoon when I put the bills addressed to U.S. Army Retired (Hon.) on the Colonel’s polished wooden desk, I stare at the black door of the safe.

Anything else, Mother?

Why, yes. I might stuff inside that fireproof box the blast of daffodils on the spring morning I brought our newborn son home from the hospital in Stuttgart. The limp clots of seaweed I plucked off our daughter’s shoulder blades on those summer days at the Norfolk shore. The scrape of the metal rake as the then-three kids and I made mounds of autumn leaves in Yakima. The crisp crack of icicles I broke off the low-slung eaves of our house in Okinawa and handed to the then-four kids to eat.

The Colonel was there—but not there—for all of that. So little wonder the kids have scattered all over the world and the Colonel and I have ended up on our own in Florida.

Now I wonder in which relentlessly hot non-season the Colonel will die. Or I’ll die. Or we’ll die alone together, like the husband and wife in this morning’s newspaperheadlines:

ELDERLY COUPLE PRESUMED DEAD IN HOUSE FIRE
BODIES BURNED BEYOND RECOGNITION

end

     
  © Rita Ciresi, 2019

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