‘Fault Line’. My new flash fiction.

I’m pleased to say that after a three-week absence (sick note to follow) I am back with a very short flash fiction, this time from the steep streets of San Francisco. Nob Hill and Russian Hill are my two favourite neighborhoods of the city, and there is something about the smell of freshly dried laundry wafting from the many corner Laundromats which make me feel very content. Not that this story will leave you feeling like that.

The tone in this one is quite different from my usual stories; it might be a reflection of having been horribly ill with gastric flu. Don’t feel too bad for me: I’m now the thinnest I’ve been for over sixteen years.


Fault Line

When it began, David was surprised to find that he had time to think about the physical properties and capabilities of the timber with which the Laundromat was constructed. He was also intrigued to see how the earthquake altered, ever so slightly, the regular oscillation of the soap suds in the bank of machines.

Outside, on the hill, he was dimly aware of a commotion caused, most likely, by a cable car turning over, spilling and squashing its cargo of surprised tourists.

As the century-old dust was finally freed from the rafters, floating down onto baskets of neatly folded laundry, David glanced at the young woman seated in the corner, by the driers. The look in her youthful eyes wasn’t fear, (they knew this would happen, didn’t they?), but rather annoyance; or was it regret? Now she’d never know the joys of fully blossomed love, or reconcile herself to her mother’s shortcomings.

 For a split second, David considered making a run through the tumbling beams and roof tiles; a self-preserving dash to a city laid waste. But fate asked him to linger.  He pictured Mrs Harris in the apartment above his; her bony fingers would be clutching the edge of her table as she surveyed the destruction. David hoped she had time to savour the vindication of her life-long prophecy.

Through the din he shouted.

‘I’ve loved this city.’

 The rubble in the corner didn’t reply.


© flyingscribbler 2011




17 comments on “‘Fault Line’. My new flash fiction.

  1. Laurita says:

    Beautifully written. There’s something almost, but not quite, comical about your descriptions. Wistful is the word, I guess. The first paragraph was fabulous.

  2. John Pender says:

    Good job with the imagery. I enjoyed it.

  3. I’m with Laurita but found this irrisistibly funny:
    “Now she’d never know the joys of fully blossomed love, or reconcile herself to her mother’s shortcomings.”


  4. Steve Green says:

    Very tight this one Justin, I like the thought of annoyance over fear when danger comes a’callin’.

    Hope you’re feeling better, and that the thinness was worth the suffering.

  5. FARfetched says:

    Darker than your usual stuff, but tasty all the same!

    Hope you’re 100% sooner than later. Maybe I should get what you had, I could stand to lose 20 pounds quickly.

  6. Different, but very well written and nicely described. The unresponsive rubble in the corner seems to perfectly capture the darkness of this piece.

  7. PS: hope you’re all well now! *sending over cookies to fatten you up* 😉

  8. Helen says:

    Wonderful imagery in this very captivating piece. I wonder what one would do if the place was falling about them. Very well written – I can hear him shouting his last words!

  9. John Wiswell says:

    I enjoy that your weightloss is matched by the shortest #fridayflash I can ever remember reading from you. Good one, too! Welcome back.

    • Lauita: There was me thinking i’d written an entirely serious story, and then I realise I still put in some humour. I can’t help it. I liked my first paragraph too. It felt good.

      John: Thanks John. I’ve been trying to use more imagery of late and so I’m pleased you liked it.

      Karen: Reading that line back a few times, I see the humour too. I hope it didn’t detract too much from the serious side of the story.

      Steve: Much better now, thanks. I don’t often come up with such a short story, but this idea leant itself to brevity.

      FARfetched: Glad you liked it. The weight piled back on in two days. Two.

      Estrella: I worried that the rubble was going too far and I think I could have changed that a bit, but glad you liked the darkmess. Those cookies were good!

      Helen: Thanks Helen. I enjoyed the imagery too!

      John: It is the shortest flash I have written to date. I enjoyed the challenge.

  10. Chuck Allen says:

    It’s great to see you back. I love the matter-of-fact nature of his observations. The resignation to the fact that this was bound to happen and the annoyance at it finally occurred was a nice mix. And I really like the ending with the silent rubble letting the story fade. Nice one!

  11. Kwee Lewis says:

    I’m glad you are back! And man how! You evoke a lot of emotions with this one. Great detail and great descriptions. And, I’m glad you are feeling better.

  12. Poignant. And I like the way that fate, pregnant with possibilities and potentials, suffered a sudden, inevitable abortion. It reminds us to enjoy what we have because we are not guaranteed a tomorrow.

  13. As Chuck said, I, too, enjoyed the matter-of-fact tone to this. It strikes me as a true reaction to the devastation. Excellent story!

  14. Hi there Justin — felt strangely optimistic to me. 🙂 Maybe because he’s getting a chance to connect with life and it’s little details, like the ‘oscillation of the soap suds’. Like your balance of big and small detail, and your well formed characters in such a tiny space (story-wise and word count). Very good. St.

  15. Icy Sedgwick says:

    So glad you’re back!! I’ve missed your stories.

    Loved this – it’s the little details that make it shine.

  16. Sonia Lal says:

    Glad you are back! Like this flash, the tone, the imagery. The last line is perfect.

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