Closing Loops

This flash fiction weighs in at just under 700 words and took first prize in the Ooligan Press (Portland State University) Write to Publish Conference 2011.

This is supposed to be quick. No pain. But it’s not quick. The impact will be quick, but I had no idea it would take so long to fall. I suppose I’m falling pretty fast; it’s just that my brain has kicked into overdrive. Every second feels like a minute.

I could do the calculations to see how long it would take me. I’m that kind of guy. My brain likes the math problems. But I suppose I should think about something more significant.

And yet, if I did go ahead and do the calculations, then I would know how much longer I have to think about something more significant. But really, it can’t be more than a couple of seconds. The office building has sixty-two floors and the tall windows roll on by in a blur, much faster than I can count them.

I should have used a gun. Then it would have been really quick. But I don’t own a gun. Why don’t I own a gun?

Kate hated guns, and so I hated guns. But now I hate Kate, so how is it that I still hate guns?

I did manage to get keys to the roof. So the building is my gun. The more stories, the higher the caliber?

Did I leave the oven on?

But what do I care about things that are supposedly significant? All that bullshit—that’s why I’m leaving.

No seriously, the kitchen was really warm this morning.

I rushed out the door to get to work on time. Didn’t want to get chewed out by the boss or answer nosy questions from co-workers. The day you jump, you get there on time.

Whoa, did I just see Susan Reinhold? Where am I? I guess I’m about two-thirds of the way down. Close to the nineteenth floor, that’s where our office is. I think I saw her in the window. Her husband has cancer. I’m really worried about her. She’s so scared. I should tell her—

Okay, now I’m sure I left the oven on. When I went to bed last night, I didn’t know I was going to do this. Not totally. I had my leftovers and I probably left it on all night. I mean, what difference does it make? I just hate to think that something like that is…well, it’s an open loop. An open loop that will never be closed.

Who cares, right? I won’t be here. And it’s insignificant. I guess if I can’t think of anything significant, I’ll worry about something that doesn’t matter.

But if it’s on too long what if it causes a fire? Burns down my apartment building? People would get hurt. I don’t want that. Now I’m thinking of something that matters.

There goes Café Nouveau. What is that, eighth floor?

I should have gotten Susan a card. Something. Anything.

Here’s where all the open loops close, all at the same time.



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