The 2012 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology is now available for purchase, and to celebrate, we’ll be posting one winning entry from flash fiction every Friday for the next three weeks, starting today with Honorable Mention “Snapshot,” by Amanda Pauley of Elliston, VA.
A shot fired and the half-open front window glass shattered as the bullet came through the far end of my room and went on through the wall. There it hit the top of a framed painting of a nude woman reclining in the grass at the bank of a creek next to a covered bridge while a man on a horse watched her from the other side with an angry expression. Frame and all dropped straight to the floor on its edge and then went face down.
A friend of mine had made the painting for me. She gave it to me to thank me for letting her borrow my car. After she returned the car it had a strange smell for over a week. I kept my mouth shut because I liked the gift so much, maybe even a little more than I liked her. I knew what that smell was, just like I knew the shot that had just been fired through the upstairs of the house which I rented from my father who lived downstairs, was not for me, but for him, not for killing anyone, just for scaring.
Although the noise itself startled me, I was not surprised at a bullet flying through the air after thirty-five years of surprises, so I finished the last bite of my soy taco, set the dish in the sink, and went to the window to look at the man standing in my yard with a rifle. His green baseball hat sat up on top of his head and gave him a stupid look. There was not much danger in being at the window now because he was watching my father’s small cow herd. The shot had sent the herd on a miniature stampede.
The cows ran a circle around the field twice while I and the stupid man in the yard watched. When they slowed closer to the house you could see the creatures breathing deeply. Some had a froth of spit around the mouth and most still seemed uneasy. One female mounted another and I thought how strange it was that after thirty-five years my father still had not realized that I was gay. Telling him was beside the point because he did not believe in gay.
“He’s not home!” I yelled toward the man with the green hat. He looked like the kind of man a woman’s voice could scare off. “Now get off the property before I call the police!” I waived a cell phone around for show and then watched as he turned around and walked down the driveway. The cows were calming down and some started to chew their cud again.
I picked up the painting. It would need to be reframed, but the painting was still intact. The woman’s eyes were calm and seemed to be watching something outside of the painting’s view. I liked the scene because it was lovely, if a little dark. Not a rare or precious moment, but a moment worth capturing.