Emerald Bolts Kate LaDew A Magazine for Flash Fiction

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The First Hug

Paul stared at the fire. The hunting was done. The cave was warm. His belly full, his head filled with nothing at all. Neanderthal times were not bad. Paul did not know it was Neanderthal times. It was just now.
   "Wait– What– Stop– Stop–" Paul struggled against furry arms. "What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?"
   "I don't know," Chevy shrugged and squeezed. "It felt right."
   "Are you killing me? Are you trying to kill me? Is that what you're trying to do? Are you trying to kill me, Chevy? Is that what you're trying to do? Trying to kill me?"
  "Why would I try to kill you?" Chevy blinked. "I was thinking about how much I like you."
   Paul's eyebrows quirked. "You were thinking about that?"
   "Do you think about that a lot?"
   "All the time?"
   "Sometimes. Most of the time I'm thinking about mammoths, but sometimes I think about you."
   "Oh," Paul did not understand what was happening. "I do not understand what is happening," Paul said. They sat in silence for a few moments.
   Chevy squeezed again and pulled his arms away. "It just seemed like the thing to do."
   Paul nodded. "Even so. You can't just put your arms around people like that out of nowhere. I thought you were a tiger or I don't even know what."
   "I was scared."
   "I'm sorry."
   "I thought a snake was trying to suffocate me."
   "Alright already. I said I was sorry."
   Paul paused, pressing against his ribs where Chevy's arms had been. "I need all my insides for living. I can't have them being squeezed just all the time for no reason."
   Chevy put his hands in his lap and didn't look at Paul. Paul didn't look at Chevy. They didn't look at each other for awhile. "You know–" Paul said.
   "I was just–" Chevy said and stopped.
  Paul's shoulders moved up and down. "If you wanted to do it again– If it seemed like the thing to do– Then. Yeah."
   Chevy looked up. "Yeah?"
   Paul smiled some. "It isn't terrible once you find out a tiger isn't trying to kill you or a snake isn't trying to kill you or a person isn't trying to kill you and you'll still be alive when it's over."
   "Okay," Chevy agreed.
   There was more silence, but it was nice. Chevy poked at the fire with his finger and drew it away. He was always forgetting about fire.


The Shopping Cart Museum

The shopping cart museum was interesting, to say the most. Percival wasn't sure why he'd ever started it. Just because his dad had specified the money was to be spent on shopping carts, didn't mean it had to be spent on shopping carts. Percival knew his dad was crazy. Everyone knew Percival's dad was crazy. But you were supposed to listen to dad, right? Wasn't that what you were supposed to do? He'd read that somewhere.
   So here he was, surrounded by shopping carts, trying to make a buck so he could somehow offset the ridiculous amount of money he spent on a shopping cart museum. Who knew? Who knew shopping carts were expensive? Who knew shopping carts cost anything at all? Someone had to make them, yeah. They didn't just pop out of the sky fully formed. Someone had to weld all their little parts together. Percival felt sorry for that someone. He felt sorry for that someone but not as sorry as he felt for himself. That someone got to leave the shopping carts behind. Percival got to look at them everyday, just sitting there being metal and doing nothing. The only interesting thing he'd ever heard about a shopping cart was that the first one had been made out of rocks. Just a pile of rocks. Percival's dad told him that. Percival's dad was crazy. Just before he died, he had taken Percival out to the backyard and shown him a pile of rocks.
   "That's the first shopping cart," his dad said.
   "That pile of rocks?"
   Cavemen had used shopping carts. That's what Percival's dad said.
   "Cavemen used shopping carts."
   "For what?"
   "For putting things in."
   "Stuff they had."
   "Where did they get the stuff?"
   "Nowhere at first."
   "Until they had stores."
   "Cavemen had stores?"
   "Cavemen always did things the wrong way around."
   So Percival had moved the pile of rocks and put them in the corner of the museum near the historical section next to cardboard cutouts of cavemen.
   "What's that pile of rocks over there?" Some kid asked.
   "That's the first shopping cart," Percival said.
   "Looks like a pile of rocks."
   "Well, it's the first shopping cart."
   "Well, it looks like a pile of rocks."
   "Why don't you get the hell out of here," Percival said.


- Kate LaDew (USA)

Kate LaDew lives in Graham, NC. A graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Arts, she has received the North Carolina Governor's Award of Excellence in Writing and Arts, the North Carolina English Teacher's Association National Writing Award, and has been published in Writer's Digest, The American Drivel Review, The Oak, Spiral-Bridge, SNReview, Penduline, Foliate Oak, Split Rock Review, Shot Glass Journal, Wild Violet, North Wind Magazine.

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 Copyright © Emerald Bolts Magazine, 2013
The front page image is copyright © by Anthony Kitterick, 2012