Best of Flash Fiction, March 2012
Published: March 28, 2012
"7527 Meadow Lawn" by Matthew Guzman has the feel of a Chris Ware comic: silent, morose, damaged. There's sound, but even that feels muted and cold. In fact, the only real sound is that inside the nameless little boy's head. Even the constant use of the copulative works toward hushed repression. Enjoy the silence. Submit your flash fiction to firstname.lastname@example.org. — Lyle Rosdahl
"7527 Meadow Lawn"
by Matthew Guzman
Houses lined the street, each compartmentalized space in equal distance from one another. A location of infinitesimal difference with only shades of satin enamel to establish contrasting identities. A boy that was sent to live with his grandparents, both first-generation "Americans," spun in a twenty by twenty square of groomed St. Augustine. He heard his grandmother yelling pejoratives in Japanese at one of her twelve cats from the front door, "Baga-ta-tee yah!" He spun to evoke the mixed rain static of enchanted disequilibrium. Turning his head to a ninety degree angle, he made the rain come faster, much faster.
His grandfather would be home soon, but he was always too tired to play. Delivering mail by foot, as Bukowski frequently illustrated, was no easy task. The western horizon began to consume the yellow dwarf in the sky. It wouldn't be long now. A solitary live oak stood like a mute soldier hovering over their medial umber house trimmed in tan on Meadow Lawn. The stolid veteran watched in silence as the boy spun into catatonic bliss. A brief reprise of rain sent him crashing down. Resting flat upon the living carpet, he looked up. The stinging itch took four or five seconds to set in; meanwhile, the sky did an erratic orbital dance as the pound of blood coursed through his temple. There was a sound, the music air makes when everything else becomes momentarily silent. It rang. At first … softly. Then, the volume knob steadily twisted. It became a concerto, all three movements, of a single lingering note.
His grandfather's big Ford pulled into the driveway during the subtle transition from day to dusk. A fading oil blotch on the porous concrete was hidden as the '74 F150 sputtered to a halt. This gigantic tank moaned as a short, but solid, man stepped out. His dark Guamanian skin, immune to summer's burn, appeared like fresh charcoal in the last hues of a fading solar wind. Seeing him stride towards the door, one could have easily identified that he was a sergeant. Each step was firm, strong. The boy awoke from his trance and nipped at his grandfather's heels. Like a small pup, he needed only the smallest sign of affection, acknowledgement, anything. His grandfather's dark shadow moved ever so slightly out of the boy's every grasp.
Inside, the silence lingered like a lonely attic. Cats lounged in indifference and were scattered around the living room as accent pieces. Dinner was served without a sound. Exotic aromas of strange sea life steamed from the rose-stenciled plates. His grandmother gave him a little smile as she sat down. The old soldier, already seated, stared out the window by the table. Nothing could be seen though the glass, only a distorted reflection of halogen iridescence set to black.
At night, the house was difficult to identify from the others on the street. Dark pigments overtook this suburban pallet turning magenta into apparitions of purple and red. As the child lay in a room of bare walls, it began to rain. There wasn't a sound. It didn't even ring. •