*** Author’s Note — I promised to publish some original works of flash fiction on this blog, and I’m a man of my word. Below is a brand-new flash piece, written specifically for this platform and clocking in at around 450 words, titled “Broken.” I hope you enjoy, and I hope it piques your interest to keep your eyes on this site for more!
Broken By Matt Bechtel
I thought nothing of it when I knocked my wife’s favorite compact off the vanity that morning.
Noah was crying, so I was rushing to shave quickly and get downstairs to help Linda. The glass shattered, but no shards escaped the plastic case; I made damn certain of that, sweeping the tiles over and over again with my palm to ensure they were clean. Toddlers find anything dangerous left within their grasp, so I even emptied the wastebasket into the kitchen garbage and then took that bag out to the bin in the garage on my way to work.
I lost my job about a month later. The woman who conducted my interview at the Unemployment Office joked that I’d been “down-sourced,” the portmanteau she’d created because my situation was so common.
Of course, we had our insurance through my job, not Linda’s, and there was a gap in our coverage right when Noah started showing symptoms. Which meant his condition was considered pre-existing, and we fell into an ungodly bureaucratic loophole. We didn’t even think twice about the home equity loans, cashing out our 401ks, and maxing out all our credit cards.
Didn’t think twice about declaring bankruptcy when the collection agencies started calling, either. It’s hard to take their “dire” threats seriously after you’ve buried your three-year-old son.
Linda and I tried. We really did. But it’s hard, and it’s flat-out impossible to go through that and not come out of it for the worse. And while we didn’t blame each other, Noah’s condition was congenital and there was always a horrific voice in the back of our heads nagging us over whose gene had killed him. Some couples are strong enough to get through that together. I guess we just weren’t.
It was the night she left that I finally realized — I’ve got nearly five more years of this shit.
The gun’s not for me. I already tried that route with pills, but of course I woke up the next morning because it would be far too lucky to get out of this that easily with so much debt left to be paid. I’m just gonna wave it around in front of the kid who works the graveyard shift at the gas station, give him ample opportunity to hit the silent alarm, and then surrender when the cops draw down on me. I’ve done my research — attempted armed robbery carries a mandatory five years for a first offender, so I’ll get out right as my sentence is ending. Sure I’ll get raped and beaten all the time, but that’s nothing compared to what the whole world can do to me.