Cindy said I was plagued by beauty. I was not a man content to appreciate a sunset or a cup of Earl Grey on a snowy day. She said I needed beauty, it was part of my nature: the curve of a waitress hip as she leaned to pour that refill; the silk blouse that slid over the bank teller’s shoulder; the rain-drenched hair of women waiting for a cab; breasts, legs, smiles. But never touch, never taste. Look, but don’t take. Listen to her voice, but don’t be the voice she needs to hear.

I was mostly faithful, and Cindy knew that mostly was the best I could do. I stayed with her, and she with me, but I needed to find the next beautiful thing. And it wasn’t sex; it was a need to find the perfect cast of light on a feminine face, the perfect fabric gliding against her belly, the perfect secret hue in her eyes. And it was sex; flesh and shadow, muscle and flex. I resisted most of the time. I imagined myself cock-less and impotent, a disillusioned eunuch. But beauty was stronger than will; it always offered more pleasure, and I was never pleased. I was always looking for an even loftier definition.

And Cindy, I don’t know why, stayed with me.



Another piece of flash fiction from the prompt “Beauty” from Felicity Johns over at


It’s been on the mantel for so long, most people don’t see it. It’s the first thing I see upon waking, and the last thing before I set myself down at night.

A chunk of old driftwood carved into a frame. Our wedding photo. It’s yellowed and curled, but I still see it in color. You standing with a rose bouquet, holding onto it like a sword, and I looking so serious and terrified. We were both terrified, remember? We knew it was something solemn and fragile, no matter the vows. It was you and me becoming us. We were kids who barely understood the weight of that word. Us.

The years passed, the hair faded, the skin became fragile lacework. You wore pant suits and I wore bell bottoms. We danced to Glenn Miller and Steve Miller. We lost a baby in ’74 and I lost my job the next year. Rough years, hard years, but we came through them together, still us.

The ocean carved the frame that holds that first deep memory. The ocean still rolls, the frame still holds.

I close my eyes and I can still see the sweet beauty in your eyes and can hear the ocean rolling over and over, carving another piece of wood for another us. And it will remain, long after the flesh secedes.


Felicity at The Dark Night Chronicles challenged her readers to come up with a flash fiction piece with the prompt “Absence”. I don’t typically do flash fiction, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Ninety-nine words.


He walked down to the river. It was their place, of privacy, of love.

The riverbed dried up after three years of drought and there was nothing but cracked earth and a hollow wind that sounded like her voice.

Come to the river, it said, and he did. Every night.

She left him for the Purina salesman. Flirted right in front of him as he explained the lack of byproducts and nutrition.

He kept the house, the barn, the dogs. But he couldn’t keep her.

Come to the river, she said, every night, and so he did. Every night.