Flash Fiction Fridays: Intense


The Root of the Onion Tree
By Kathryn Handley

Pursing her berry-crush lips and smoothing the lines of her black checked on white, silky Canasta top, Mabel reached for the glass knob on the upright radio. As Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” crooning lowered to a stop, she heard a slow moaning sound rising, drifting in the torn, screened-in door.

Damn cat. “Keep your drawers on, Suzie,” she screeched and moved directly to the picture of a young stud in military garb where she slammed it down with a thud.

Outside, fragile onion skins sashayed from the thick chestnut tree branch and landed soundlessly on the earth below. Almost at the root of the onion now, Ben’s eyes twitched and watered. The furious rubbing of his eyelids with little boy hands close to drove him crazy, yet he continued, stopping now and then to peer through a translucent peel to look at the mottled-blue sky.

Not again.  Not again, mother.  It’s not my fault.  You shouldn’t…

She said it twice.The first time Ben blanked on it, and when he could no longer ignore the voice, “Get in here now, Ben. Get in here now, Ben!” he, shuddering, stashed the onion bulb in the safe crook of the branches, and leapt down.

Although he twisted his ankle on the fat root bursting from the earth, he hobbled, nearly running, around the tree three times for good luck before he noticed her standing, and then, kicking the cat off the porch. She whizzed the green-budded fresh switch in figure eights in the air, creating a buzz Ben knew well.

Kathy Handley, a Grub Street member, writes fiction of all lengths. Her short fiction has appeared in many literary magazines, including www.istanbulliterarymagazine.com and www.literarymama.com. Her writing placed in many contests, most recently she placed in Press 53 2010 Flash Fiction and won the Word Hustler’s Page-to-Screen contest, judged by Sara Gruen and printed in The Nervous Breakdown.

Handley currently serves as Prose Poetry judge for the National League of American Pen Women Soul-Making Contest. She is the author of Birds of Paradise and A World of Love and Envy, a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. To learn more about Kathy, visit her website.


John Wiswell said…
Good use of quick sentences to draw details in quick and get a sense of harried tone.
Kelly Hashway said…
I agree with John. I love when writers use sentence structure to enhance tone.
Carol Apple said…
Scary story, especially Mable, and definitely intense. There is something so uncomfortable about a child peeling an onion and rubbing his eyes and the location - in the tree - kind of jolts you.
kathrynhandley said…
Dear Friends,
Thanks for the thoughtful readings and comments about "The Onion Tree"
Your opinions are valuable to me.
Have a wonderful week-end.
Best, Kathy

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