The plane crashed into the mountain. It lost altitude suddenly, irredeemably. There was chaos in the cockpit. Seatbelts clicked shut, oxygen masks dropped—a monstrous fiery blast…
Roger, speaking in gasps after running through the airport, deposited that red face of his over the boarding counter and complained fecklessly. How the hell did he know it would take so long… Those ridiculously long lines…
“I’m sorry,” the boarding agent said, peering into all that fury. “That flight has taken off some time ago. You’ll need to rebook.”
“Fuck!” he said, slapping his hand down hard on the counter, and a security guard rushed forward.
Roger rocketed through traffic. Till he couldn’t. There was a foundation makeup convention he desperately needed to be at. There was a promotion waiting to fatten his wallet if he got it right. This new product he’d pitch. This new old product with a fresh new name and ad campaign he’d pitch. The clients he needed to get onboard would be there, and he knew the script by heart. But there was a plane to catch between him and success, and now he was the one, goddammit, who needed, to get onboard. Just his luck that there was more traffic than he expected, and that friggin’ gold fish. What was he thinking?
He was scrambling out of the bedroom with his suitcase when he saw his young daughter in the hall crying. Now what, he thought, looking at his watch. She had a small fishbowl in her hands with a goldfish floating on the top of the water, her tears dripping into it.
“14 Karat,” she said, then sobbed. His wife was already downstairs, naked under her robe, fixing lunch for their eldest to take to school.
“I’m so sorry, hon,” he said, patting her head. “Let’s flush 14 Karat down the toilet together, so it can go in the ocean. Be in the big water where it belongs.”
She hugged the bowl against herself tightly. “No!” she screeched. “He’ll go to hell then!”
She released one hand and pointed down at the carpet. “I want him to go to heaven,” she said. “We have to bury him like Grandpa, for him to go to heaven.”
For god’s sake, he thought, but went with her out back and buried it under the honeysuckle. There was a little girl ritual and a little girl prayer in whispers as he bowed his head and glanced furtively at his watch.
While slipping on his trousers he looked out the window. After three days of hard downpours, it had finally let up. He stood there sunlit. The storm had moved on. Perhaps that meant something, the storm moving on. Clear skies. That maybe he’d get some kind of break. He went over some pitch lines in front of the mirror. Maybe longer than he had time for. But so much was riding on it. When he felt he was ready, he grabbed his suitcase/the doorknob. Then he heard it from the other side of the door. Thought What the hell…?
The alarm clock startled him awake. His wife stirred. He pulled back the comforter and gazed at the teepee his erection made of his boxers. He didn’t want to cut it close. But there was still time. A quickie wouldn’t change much. And besides, he needed to rid himself of some of that tension that was building. He strapped on his watch without looking at it, reached over into all that warmth with a pestering hand.
Robert Scotellaro’s work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies including: W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, Flash Frontier, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and many others. Two of his stories were Best Small Fictions winners (2016 and 2017). He is the author of seven literary chapbooks, and three flash fiction collections. He has, along with James Thomas, edited New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, by W.W. Norton & Company (2018). Visit him at rsflashfiction.com.