“The Eternally Lit” by Joseph G. Peterson
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, Joseph J. Peterson brings us a story of alcohol and John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame.
You had seen once long ago when you were an eighth grader John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and you marveled at the idea that a flame might flicker eternally. Even then you talked and joked with your comrades about the concept of getting eternally lit. There must be some switch, you reasoned, that if you could only find it and flick it to “on,” would keep you lit until the end of your days. Of course by now you have forgotten about the Eternal Flame; you have forgotten about those old comrades; and you have forgotten that it had once been a passionate dream of yours to find that switch. Once in a while an old friend will discover you sitting at the Bar. There will be a flicker of recognition and then it will snuff itself out as you try to remember who the person is and how you once knew him. If he speaks to you and he says, Remember me? If he says, We stood together years ago and pissed on the Eternal Flame, you will say, Of course I remember you. How could I forget you? In your mind, at least, that’s what you’re saying: How can I forget you? But all he hears is an incomprehensible grunt that sounds like: I don’t know who you are or why you’re invading my space but get the fuck away from me before I kill you. You order another drink from the bartender because just before you were interrupted by this idiot you had seen in the darkness what looked like that elusive mythical switch you had spent your whole life searching for, the switch that, once turned on, would keep you permanently lit without the need to ever order another fucking drink again so long as you live.
JOSEPH G. PETERSON is the author of two novels, Beautiful Piece, and Wanted: Elevator Man. He is also the author of a novel-in-verse about the drinking life called Inside The Whale. He was the co-founder and editor of StoryHead Magazine. He has published numerous stories, one of which was recently anthologized in Daddy Cool. His novel, The Plan of My Life, is forthcoming in 2014. He works in publishing and he lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters. Visit his website here.
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 to [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: Aug 8, 2013
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