Melina at the Movies – Sarah Valeika

flash fiction

I had an aunt Melina who wept during sad movies. There are plenty of people who review movies and attest to their gravity or appeal by saying things like,

“I cried like a baby!” or praise a film that induces both “laughter and tears,” but nobody cried at movies like Aunt Melina.

It was funny to most of us. To my father, for example, who had married Melina’s youngest sister, this 47-year-old woman with the long, auburn hair, big billowing scarf and mason jar of green tea was just a suburban vignette rife with city-dweller humor. Raised in Chicago himself, having seen a “hell of a lot of women,” he had “never seen anybody who looked more acutely miserable while being entertained as that Aunt Melina of yours.” I never really understood why being from the city made him so wont to laugh at those of us with hearts on streets named after trees, but he liked to think he was jaded, knowing and hardy, so we let him. There were times when he wanted to watch movies with my Aunt Melina simply to watch her reactions, as though they were infinitely more amusing than any fiction could be.

Take “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” He casually asked my mother one day if her sister had ever seen the movie.

“Don’t think so.”

“Don’t you think she should? It’s a classic.” He loosened a slice of pizza from a tupperware and shoved it in his mouth.

“Oh Rod,” Mom sighed, “leave Mel alone!” She snatched the slice out of his hands and finshed it.

“What?” he laughed, that little impish gleam in his eye. “It’s part of her cultural education.”

So, that Friday evening, she came over to watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with us. I sat in a blanket on the floor with the book in my hands, to cross-compare. Mom spent most of the time in and out of the room going to the kitchen to refill Anthony’s water bottle or get Fossie some more popcorn. Fossie and Anthony flopped across their beanbag chairs, and Dad and Aunt Melina sat side by side on the purple sofa. (Funnily, my Aunt Melina had chosen the color—she thought it “suited” Mom’s eyes, so my mom picked it up in a heartbeat. Dad never really saw it that way; after all, he had separately suggested the color to fit the caramel walls, but I can tell even now from the way my mother talks about Melina that it was she, and not Dad, who changed Mom’s mind).

“Look at her eyes,” my aunt whispered, 67 minutes into the film. Audrey Hepburn was gazing at something or other, but I couldn’t see what, too occupied was I in trying to find the page I had lost in the novella.

“What?” my father asked.

“Her eyes, don’t they just look so childlike? So trusting?”

And thus did she proceed to loosen whatever restrained her eyes—faucet, duct tape, nails and screws—who knew what ever kept her composed at all? But with the flick of an eyelash, as it were, she began to cry. My father said nothing, only motioned with his hand as Mom returned to the room, and again he smirked to his wife.

“We may need a little more tea in here, doll… to soothe the nerves!”

 

There was also, of course, the time when my father decided to rent “A Year Without Santa Claus” to show at the family Christmas Eve dinner. After roast beef was served, the family with children groggily headed home, parents a little wine-liberated and children sipping the sweet nectar of anticipation. Those who stayed: Granny, (who was dwindling in the head), Uncle John (passed out) and Aunt Melina.

“Prepare yourself,” Dad said solemnly to the 47-year-old woman with the long auburn hair and the trigger-ready tear ducts and the shallow blue eyes. “This is not a movie easily forgotten.”

“Rod,” my mom chided demurely, picking lint off the floor, “come on now.”

“I think this one is going to bring us closer, even through the pain.”

Fire munched away at itself in the fireplace, and Aunt Melina only smiled that thin, closed-mouth smile of hers.

“Rod,” my mother repeated.

“It’s a movie that speaks to me,” he began, and clapped me on the shoulder, under the weight of which I shuddered (having inherited my mother’s weak frame). “I think I first saw this one with the kids. Maybe Fossie first? The poor little lamb was waiting for smiles on snowmen, I could see it in her eyes, but no such smiles come in the year without Santa. How could they? Without the enchantment of a dream to sustain their feeble little hearts, what are they to do, I ask you?”

Hunkering down beneath our front porch, I could hear the local stray whining, braying at whoever was passing the house. A shadow skipped. A music note, single and sustained, was being played somewhere, I could feel it.

“Just shush,” Mom said quietly, a gentle in-and-up of the chest suggesting some attempt at a laugh.

“C’mon Mel, you’n’I will get through this together,” and he grasped my aunt’s hand and pressed it to his chest. As he did, Melina just sat there and lowered her eyes to the carpet. A single, sustained note was being played somewhere, I did not know where. Not once did anybody cry that night which, in retrospect, was a sad sort of funny.

 

I always wondered how infidelity worked—whether it had to be physical, or whether it was suspected or proven, or whether it was a matter of blame or just bad timing, mutually bad timing. By the age of fourteen, I had learned that it was just a matter of movies. Sad movies, and whether or not you let yourself cry.

Sarah Valeika is a writer whose works have been featured in Eunoia Review, Fem Fiction, Poetry Breakfast, Navigating the Maze and other print and e-journals.

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Dying Dahlia Review: Summer 2017

flash fiction, poems

It’s finally here! We are so happy to present the Summer 2017 edition of Dying Dahlia Review!  We are featuring some amazing flash fiction and poetry by some awesome women writers!  And check out that beautiful cover art by Ashley Parker Owens!  Make sure to snag yourself a copy today! Follow the links below to purchase the ebook at your retailer of choice.

DDRsummer2017

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple iBooks (Search for “Dying Dahlia Review”)

 

Baby’s Breath – D. Vaisius

flash fiction

Learning someone is like falling. Every moment changing, bringing you closer to something else. A cold, hard ground. But you weren’t the ground. I learned and fell but there was no end. No ground. And so I learned to fly. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. Maybe I’m getting there. Maybe we are so different I’ll never make it. But you will. I look at you and a gentle smile tugs at my insides. There won’t be any yelling this time, or sadness.

You have got my smile and I have a weird thing about your hair. We have fairy lights, candles and nightlights to break up the dark. We have the space we make together through our hands and bodies and voices. We are a knotted mess of pure, experiential love. It sounds like a beautiful secret. I kissed you on the nose. Now rain hits our roof. It’s February and rain is surrounding me. I stain my ears, hoping the sound will not fade away leaving me alone. At least the rain has come. If only for a moment.

I clasped and unclasped my hands anxiously all day. Searching for an anchor in the buzzing hail of nerves that seemed to inexhaustibly fill me. This old house makes bones ache. The silence of the scream in me seems to wrap quieting fingers about my throat and squish. I can hear birds outside. They are twittering away. It’s not quite a hopeful sound yet but it’s one I’ve not heard for a while. The roar of a backhoe as it rips another tree down cuts through. Perhaps that is why the birds seem subdued. I close my eyes and lean back in the rocking chair, breathe in time with you.

D. Vaisius was eight when she first started writing. Since then it has been a quiet, reflective journey through styles and experiences. Writing is probably the only things she doesn’t over think and as such is incredibly important to her happiness.

Two Liner Contest

flash fiction, poems

Our birthday is coming up on February 22! (We much prefer birthday rather than “anniversary”.) And we want to celebrate with a little contest! Send us your two line story/poem and win a copy of the Dying Dahlia Review: Winter 2017 ebook.

Rules? There are none. Just send us your very best two lines. We’ll choose the best three and feature them in our upcoming Summer 2017 ebook.

Winners will be announced on (you guessed it) February 22nd. No time to lose! Send us your two line poem/story to DyingDahliaReview@gmail.com or simply #DyingDahlia on Facebook or Twitter. 

Happy Writing!

This is Bad – Rebecca Havens

flash fiction

This is Bad

I’m not quite sure how to tell this story—so I will start at the beginning, the way they teach little kids to tell their stories.

I was ringing up this guy, for his two forties and pack of cigs, at the gas station, and he’s looking at me all funny. I’m waiting for him to do something Bad and he’s sitting there all calm, and I’m just ringing him up. There’s that little room right behind me and I’m trying to sot of angle myself toward it—a room with bullet proof glass and a telephone. He’s super calm, but I figure that doesn’t mean he won’t do something Bad.

Extensions – Ginger Pinholster

flash fiction

Extensions

On the day of her release from the looney bin, Dawn waited on the hospital’s circular driveway, blinking in the sunlight until Tonya’s minivan appeared, and off they went to get eyelash extensions. Tonya said it would cheer Dawn up to look in a mirror through a curtain of eyelashes that would make her look like a robotic doll or a cartoon deer. Anyway, it would be an adventure – something to take Dawn’s mind off her divorce and all of the reasons for it, whose names were Rebecca, Shannon, and Jennifer.

What Remains – Beth Knaus

flash fiction

What Remains

Billy and I pulled into the parking lot of the home, after driving four hours, to pick up my mother. I hadn’t seen her in over 15 years. I was married back then to a man who rivaled her insanity, a different man than the better man that had just driven with me to pick her up. So Billy had never had the pleasure of meeting her.

“Well, here we are,” I said. “Are you ready?”

Work of Art – Aileen Santos

flash fiction

Work of Art

She disrobed for him. The luna tattoo on her bottom half moved as if waving to the sky. She felt awkward at first, disrobing in front of strangers. Then oddly enough, the feeling would melt away like a good grilled-cheese sandwich; the crusts crispy enough and her attitude, just the right amount of spunk for this type of photo shoot. When she first started modeling, she told herself, I have limitations, no nudes. She believed she had standards, but quickly they dissipated just like her clothes.

She moved her body at just the right angle – the light hitting the moon and her pale face to make it look like they were both glowing. Chin up, sister, she told herself, you look good – hot, even, and it won’t take but a few hours to get this session done.

The photographer moved parts of her to fill in the frame of his lens. He had a vision and he’d fulfill it, at whatever cost. He was an artist and he needed models who understood that. He liked this girl, because she was professional, knew how to listen to direction, a natural too. She exuded both confidence and humility, grace and passion. Even with her abundance of talent, he would still need time to make it work. He moved her right arm above her head, lifted her chin even higher, spread her legs apart.