“Sophie Wins” by Michael Morshed
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Michael Morshed’s Sophie goes down a dark path.
After writing a suicide letter addressed to her fiancé, Sophie tooted three fat lines of heroin, then downed some pills just to make sure. Jack was high in the bathroom when she did it, his knees jelly. He was fumbling with the knobs on the faucet.
Through the bathroom window the sun got in—the honks and shouts, the laughter of the city. The light bothered Sophie’s face, so she shut her eyes and turned her head away from it.
Jack was under her.
“I read today,” he said, “a little girl in Michigan shot her father in the face.”
“She found the loaded gun in his closet. Just seven years old. You learn to tie your shoe at what, ten?” He could feel the heroin wrap the muscles around his mouth. “I don’t think she’s the one who did it though.”
“The wife. Blamed it on a little kid. That can’t be tough, right? What’s the kid gonna say? Who are the cops gonna believe? Probably take the kid away. That’s the worst that’ll happen. Mom won’t care.”
Sophie wiggled her hips.
“You want to?”
She didn’t answer, and he was glad. Sex and bathtubs don’t mix; sex and heroin don’t either.
He took Sophie by the elbow. He liked to see her skin wet. He raised her arm, and when it parted the surface of the water, he watched the drips bead down her elbow. It was the Titanic, turning bow up before it sank.
“This thing we got,” he said. “You can’t tell him again.” He wrapped her up between his arms, brought her closer to him, and raised her out of the water far enough to where he could put his lips on her back. His hands stayed on her little belly. Her head fell back.
“I’ve been getting that feeling again,” he said. “The world is something to run from.” He tried to swallow, but couldn’t suck it down. “I was going to move to Africa once, but even them—I read about it—they’re assholes too.”
He tried God, but didn’t stick. All this coming from one pointless boom, now that made sense.
He rearranged her so her head lay in the middle of his chest. He clamped his chin down on her sticky hair, kissed her. “Just need you.”
The water had lost its heat.
He wrapped her around the belly and slid along the bottom of the tub, taking her with him. He kept his hand on her chin and made sure her lips and nose were always out in the air. He used his toes to turn the faucet. The hot water poured.
He raised his feet so they were above the waterline, under the pouring falls. He should have felt a burn, but it was good heroin.
“We should sit around the house until all the money is gone.”
Her head fell forward, sending up a splash when her forehead hit the water.
“Oh—down goes Frazier.”
She usually laughed when he said that.
He cupped her ears, then pulled her head back so it rested again on his chest. He touched her cheek with the back of his hand and thought it felt cold. He got the jumbo plastic cup and filled it with a scoop of water that he checked to make sure was not too hot. He tilted her head so her nose stuck straight up, then poured. The water came off her face pink and rosy.
MICHAEL MORSHED’s work can be found at X World War 3 X, the Whistling Fire, and Bartleby Snopes, where he was a Story of the Month winner. He writes for RoyKeaneismydaddy.com and studied at UCR Palm Desert.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Jun 18, 2015
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