Flash Fiction Friday: The Green Mistress

Erik slammed down the empty glass, the bitters of wormwood still dancing across his tongue. “Another,” he said to the bartender.

The bartender said nothing as he picked up the bottle of absinthe and poured more of the green shimmering liquid into the empty glass.

“Not real, none of it,” Erik said, taking the glass and knocking down its contents. He glanced over his shoulder at the beautiful woman who stood behind him. The curly locks of her bobbed hair, glinting green in the dim lights of the bar, framed her delicate face. Her eyes, sultry and blue-green, blinked slowly at him with that knowing come-hither look. Her pale green skin shimmered as if dusted with pearls, and her deep green satin dress folded around her in highlights and shadows.

“More,” her vivid lips whispered, as she twisted a curl around her finger. “Don’t leave me empty. Don’t leave me alone.”

“Not real,” Erik muttered, shaking his head. He slid the glass back to the bartender. “Another.”

“I think you’ve maybe had enough,” the bartender said.

The woman behind him gently caressed Erik’s throat with her hands. “More. I can’t be alone.”

“I said, another one,” Erik said.

The bartender shook his head. “No. I’m cutting you off, buddy.”

The woman let out a hiss and dug her nails into Erik’s throat, drawing long scratches over his Adam’s apple. “Give me more.”

Erik let out a vile curse and jumped to his feet. “Give me another one!”

“Get outta my bar.”

“Don’t you know I’ll die?” the woman cooed into Erik’s ear. “Don’t you love me? I love you…so much, so much.”

Erik threw money down on the counter, put on his fedora, and shrugged into his trench coat. He turned away from the bar and staggered toward the door. The woman collapsed to the floor and grabbed his ankles, forcing him to drag her every step of the way.

“You can’t do this to me!” she wailed.

“Not real,” Erik said. “None of it. Not real.”

“But you love me.”

Erik paused, looking up and down at her slender, alluring curves. He reached down and offered a hand to her. “When we get home. I hid a bottle in the basement. But I can’t drink it ‘til my wife’s gone to bed.”

“I said, get outta my bar!” the bartender shouted from across the room. A large bouncer came over to the door and seized Erik by the collar of his trench coat.

“I’m going!” Erik said, pushing the bouncer away.

“Then get going,” the bouncer said.

The woman climbed up from the floor. “Let’s get out of here, Erik. Take me home. Love me there, like you promised.”

Together, they stepped through the doors and walked out into the bitter cold air. The woman shivered, pulling her green mink shawl tighter around her shoulders.

“Not real,” Erik said again, brushing a finger across her cheek. “But so beautiful. So, so beautiful.”

“I’m as real as you want me to be.”

“You’re shivering. Here, take my coat.” Erik slipped out of his coat and helped the woman slide her arms into it.

“So much better.”

Erik blinked, and for a moment spotted his trench coat lying rumpled on the ground as new snowfall dotted it. He shook his head and saw the woman again, warm and beautiful in his coat. He offered her an arm and they stumbled down the streets, slipping and sliding in the snow and laughing like new lovers.

It was past midnight by the time Erik and the woman made it to his house. His wife had given up on him and lay in bed, breathing softly. In the moonlight, Erik thought he glimpsed tear stains smeared across her cheeks. A pang of guilt surged through him.

“The basement,” the woman insisted. “Love me like you promised.”

Erik stared at his wife, knowing how much he had hurt her, knowing how fragile the thread of their marriage was. Every day that thread crept further between the scissors of the Fates, waiting to be snipped in two, sundering their marriage like death.

The woman’s silky lips brushed across his. “Why won’t you love me? Don’t you know I’ll die?”

Heart pounding, Erik stumbled toward the stairs. At the top, he paused, thinking of the stains on his wife’s beautiful soft pink cheeks. “Maybe you should die. Leave me alone. You’re not real.”

The woman laughed a deep cruel laugh. “If I die, you die.” She gave him a fierce shove and he tumbled down the stairs headfirst. As he lay at the bottom of the stairs, dazed and in pain, he watched her descend the steps, every move graceful and terrifying. Soon, she loomed over him, dragging her nails across his face and laughing. “You might be rid of me for now, but you’ll come back to me, love. You always come back. I am the heart of you. The taste of my lips fills your every waking moment.”

“Erik? Oh, no…Erik!”

Erik looked up through fluttering eyelids to see his wife running down the stairs toward him.

“You’ll come back to me,” the green woman whispered.

“Not real,” Erik said.

“Of course I’m real,” Erik’s wife said.

Erik reached up a hand and brushed it across her pink tear-stained cheek. “Yes. Yes, you are.”

“Let’s get you up the stairs, you drunken old fool,” his wife said, her voice a mixture of anger and concern. “I swear, Erik, if you come home like this one more time…”

But Erik couldn’t hear her anymore. As they struggled up the stairs, his green mistress sang softly to him with siren voice:

“She’s the one who isn’t real…”

And for one moment, Erik spied his trench coat lying on the basement floor.

“The Green Mistress” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Sky of the Imaginary

Elinor lay on her back, staring up at the sky above. Fluffy clouds rushed through the skies like ships gliding on the breeze, their white sails spread wide to catch the wind. Wispy cotton-candy clouds danced high in stratosphere above the dense sailing ships. In the distance, heavy, brooding clouds loomed with the promise of rain and lightning. In the midst of the dome of perfect Marian blue, the sun gleamed bright and clear, leaving spots of light dancing across Elinor’s eyes any time she dared a glance at its brilliant orb.

“I should very much like to walk through the sky,” Elinor said, rolling over onto her stomach and pressing her face into the grassy, fragrant earth. She drew a deep breath as the scent of grass and petrichor filled her nostrils. The whole world was freshness and life.

But only for a moment.

“Elinor, you must wake up,” Elinor’s mother said.

Elinor opened her eyes to the electric lights—the only true lights she had ever known in her twelve years of life. “I dreamed about the sky again,” she said, brushing the sleep out of her eyes. Her mother stood in front of her, limned by the cold artificial light.

“There is no such thing as the sky. How many times must I tell you? It’s legend from the ancient nuclear wars.”

“But Mother, there had to be something above people before they went underground.”

“No. There has only ever been rock above our heads, even before the wars. The whole of Earth is encased in rock.”

“But how could I see it in my dreams if—”

“Silence. The sky is just part of your imagination. It’s time to go to work. Get dressed.”

Frowning, Elinor stalked over to her drawers and pulled out clothes for her day. Her mother didn’t understand—could never understand the visions that filled Elinor’s dreams. Nothing that vivid and powerful could be based on the imaginary. Someday she would prove it was real. She would bore up into the earth instead of down. And there, bright and blue, this imaginary thing would be waiting for her, exactly as she had dreamed it.

But for now, she was only a child, and all she could do was join the community in expanding deeper into the earth, into the only reality they had.

“The Sky of the Imaginary” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.

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Image courtesy of Maliz Ong via PublicDomainPictures.net.