The Discussion

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Based on the prompt of a forgetful young father. I went and did...something else to it.

Submitted: May 17, 2016

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Submitted: May 17, 2016

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A man walking towards the chopping block, the electric chair, to a wooden post before a firing squad, is invariably thinking about executioner’s axe, gun, or needle, and never about the executioner themself. Be he in fetters or chains, he walks with a certain resolution and pride, resigned to the coming blow.

Unless he was Harold.??

Harold couldn’t attest to a great many things in life good or bad, and so his execution was more unorthodox than most. Instead of thick rusted manacles holding his slim wrists tight against the rough metal, biting and scraping at the skin surely calloused from wearing such things for so long, Harold awaited his fate in a faded argyle bathrobe that was perhaps too open at the front. Also his wrists were pretty fat. Instead of a hallways along which ran the cells keeping the darkest souls from seeing the light of day, and the guards patrolling from gangways with shotguns and riot shields, Harold waited for his fate on a hard kitchen bar stool that was making the act of sitting as worse as the execution that was to come. And instead of being lashed to an electric chair or tied to a post with one last smoke and a parting shot, Harold was going to be executed in his own kitchen, in his own home, in his own bathrobe.

That faded old thing was becoming soaked with sweat, even though its wearer sat in his hard chair staring at the clock on the wall they’d bought at Disneyland on a day when the lines were too long, and so they’d just skipped the whole mess and told the kid the giftshop was the cause of the whole fuss. Mickey Mouse had both his hands at the six o’clock position when the upstairs shower cut off and the bathroom door swung open. As his executioner came down the stairs with heavy ominous steps, Mickey had his said cartoon mouse eyes on Harold’s, as if saying: better you than me, you poor bastard.

She came through the kitchen archway with a blast of steam and plunged the whole room into a thick soup of tension inch thick, her head enveloped in red flames. Her own rombe was white and cinched tight and shone in the morning sun as she strode on long legs towards him with purpose and murder in her stride.

“Harold.”

“Marion.”

“You’re a fucking idiot, Harold.”

“I am a fucking idiot, Marion.”

"What did we say about the kid's seat?" They talked about it a lot in fact. Harold, stop forgetting where you put things, stop leaving things where they shouldn't be. He'd listened every time, swearing to god he did. He loved Marion, and their two year old even more. They'd left her unamed for now, a new thing Marion learned at college, but she was a she and Harold had been insisting on his wife's name.

But he still forgot. He'd left the seat on the roof in a moment of carelessness, again, and inside that aluminum cocoon surrounded by crush space he probably didn't hear the child sqealing as she rode on the roof of her dad's car, al least he could've heard that, since she was way too young to be talking anyway. He'd driven to nearly the end of the block before someone pointed out the faded pinks seat, cheap plastic gleaming in the late after-school sun.

She stood and stared down hard at him and he seemingly melted further onto the stool like a fat, pasty ice cream left on the cone for too long. Mickey kept ticking and tocking, and soon the hands read six fifty-five.

She moved first and fast, holding his head in her hands and finally he allowed himself to breathe. She held his hand to her chest and stroked his hair, the fingers moving strong and hard through thick brown hair, and she felt wetness from his cheek.

“You have to stop doing this.” She spoke with great effort to hold back the cracks forming deep in her voice and so it came out strained and stretched too thin. Too many utterances of the same phrase grated away at it.

“You have to stop putting taking that damn thing out of the garage every time you leave.”

“I keep forgetting, Marion,” He sobbed and whined like some wounded animal caught in a trap, breaths coming short and shallow, gutteral soundings of sorrow bouncing off the wet walls of a throat soaked in the tears he swallowed.

“I keep forgetting every day. I had to take her to school, and we were so late-”

“Harold,” She was whispering now, leaned close over each other as they were and so her mouth was right next his ear,

“She’s been dead for two years, honey.”

The clock hit seven. It chimes, and in the quiet morning that’s all they could hear.?


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