In the Classroom

  • Train Dreams: A Novella
    Train Dreams: A Novella
    by Denis Johnson
  • Bluets
    by Maggie Nelson
  • We the Animals: A novel
    We the Animals: A novel
    by Justin Torres



DANNY: I’m racing my niece. My wheelchair versus her trike. I never thought I’d have one. And I’m losing.

JOANNE: Fifteen years ago I had a decent waistline. Fifteen years ago I had a husband who could shoot pool, and go to the fridge for another beer. I had a husband who could roll over and bite my neck.

LUKAS: I was the lucky one. Danny was just, mutilated. He had too many kneecaps all of a sudden. And I, I wasn’t even wearing a seat belt, I never do.

JOANNE: The doctor told me, it will inevitably cut his life short. I wanted children with him. Why can’t I? What’s the plan for us supposed to be?

LUKAS: It was on the right, just past the green light. We almost got there. I saw the neon ass, clear as glass.

JOANNE: The other driver was stone sober. That’s what the cop told me. She took her dad’s car and was trying to kill herself. I guess she thought Dan’s van was big enough to stop her. She did die. She was fucking lucky.

DANNY: So it was after Joanne went out to the movies. I picked Luke up in my old van, we used to sleep in there in our broke twenties. I didn’t tell him where I was taking him. Sometimes you just gotta spring a titty bar on a guy. I wanted to take my buddy out the last night before he put on the ball and chain. His now ex-wife (thank god), was a real hag. I mean a huge bitch. He wasn’t himself when he was with her. He needed some freedom.



I put the roach in the empty Coors can and swished the backwash around. I was only a few minutes from home. Had a bad date with Barb—didn’t get that nut. Needed to simmer down. All I’m saying is, it’s either me or the baby dolls. She can’t have both.

I pulled into the lot of my apartment complex. Goddamn rathole. What kind of numbnut would raise a family here? It was after midnight and the little twin girls from 3B were playing hide and seek between the cars. Their parents were sharing a smoke on the front stoop. All I could see was the orange burning ring, passed from one to the other, and their smoke plumes. It was crow-black out. The super doesn’t know how to switch a bulb and the moon was gone.

She’s lucky I even fuck around with her after that shit she pulled last week. Gives me a damn stuffed elephant. At the jobsite. What kind of shit is that to explain to the guys? I cruised my Bronco toward my spot, avoiding bodies and bobbling over the uneven pavement. Fuck! Potholes, shit. Goddamn Lenny never fixes a damn thing ‘round here.

I was almost in my spot, then the kids started howling. I didn’t care at first. Shut up. Prob’ly ran over one-a their Penny Pockets or some shit.

But then the father cried out. I parked and stepped one foot out of the truck as the man sprinted to the lot, trying to howl.

“My so-, my son what the fuck my son…” I ran over to the kneeling father, my eyes couldn’t adjust to the lot. The mother hadn’t moved from the stoop. I came up and there was a little thing, a little bald thing. Not much over a year old. Bloody. Collapsed. His eyes were open. He was quiet.

I couldn’t open my goddamn mouth. I just balled up my fists and looked over toward the mother. I couldn’t, the cigarette had died. But I could hear her—spastically gulping in air.

“But it’s my son. My, you…” the father wiped blood from his baby’s forehead, the flesh still soft.

I stood there with the two men until the flashing lights broke up the dark.

*     *     *

I don’t sleep. It’s been months now. Doctors give me anti-anxiety things, I throw them away. I usually watch Ghost Hunters and do crossword puzzles to pass the night. I don’t see Barb. I think of my father all the time.


Kate's definition of flash fiction:

Flash fiction is dangerous. In the wrong hands, it’s a trend. The writer can indulge their vanity to the fullest capacity by obsessing over their cleverness and style. In the right, flash fiction wheedles down the story to its most potent form. It’s an ice pick, and can cut through anything with a fine point.

Kate Carsella is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois.