“Between the two of us, so much borrowed trouble.”

stories

The Fire Constellation
Darrell Woody

woodyGraduated from Los Angeles Mission College in 2010 with an Associate of Arts in Computer Science, Darrell has a Bachelor of Arts in English from USC. He has had many short stories and poetry accepted by literary publications.

woodyFLASH FICTION CONTEST WINNER!!

 


“She has to be here somewhere,” I insist. But where is our – my – daughter?

“I looked in that room already,” I snap. Then, less accusingly: “She can’t be missing, Mari. Where in this house could a five-year-old be?”

“I guess we need better team work.”

We redouble our efforts, probing each room. Annie, my daughter, lives in her own mind, a constellation unfurling before night and day’s unknowable divide.

“Bo,” Mari says, her voice a twig in a tornado. “Call the police.”

She gave me that stupid nickname. It reminds me of our others. She had seen “the him” for just – per her – a few months. Working something out in her head – per her – about us, about a future together. Me: The ugly grades from three flunked marriages, peddled every day like badges of honor.

“Annie, come out now. Where are you hiding?”

“If you’re not going to call the police then I am,” Mari claims.

I sit – collapse – onto the sofa like a stockpile of mush. Between the two of us, so much borrowed trouble.

“Is there something you want to tell me?” Mari pleads.

I want this to work, I nearly say. But it has become about Annie, my flesh and blood. And punishment. I stare at Mari. It dawns on me how little I really know about her. She said she liked – no, needed – a family. But Annie was not what she – I – expected. I stand. We stare at each other, and then Mari blinks.

“Bo?”

“I’m faithful, not you. What’d you do with Annie?”

Hope. Pain. Suspicion.

Then, in a corner of the room, from beneath a fluffy blanket in plain sight, an angelic voice says, “Mommy-Daddy.” And past an opposite corner, beyond an opened window, fire from a distant star ignites the blackness of time.