An offering of flash fiction where a choice that will resonate for the rest of one’s life must be made…
by: Robert Marshall1
Sebastian was riding his bike along the canal, under water elms and power lines on his way to his mother’s crystal shop. Out of the corner of his eye-corner, advancing in the muddy water, was an alligator with something in its mouth. Sebastian snapped his kickstand down and peered into the trash-strewn canal. Being short sighted, he couldn’t tell exactly what was in the alligator’s mouth, a baby or a shopping bag? His mind whirled like the cosmos. Jump in and save the baby? What if it’s just a shopping bag? He would have risked his life for plastic. But it might be a baby, Sebastian thought. Sebastian had been told many times he was a good boy. A good boy would save a baby.
Then a voice in his head asked: So what if it is a baby? Why is a baby’s life worth more than yours? You were once a baby, too. The only thing that has changed is time. And time, Sebastian knew, was not real, more invisible than air. Gulls circled overhead. Sebastian remounted his bike. Then another voice spoke: If you ride on, you will carry this secret for the rest of your life. Perhaps for even longer than that. For many, many lives.
Robert Marshall’s novel, A Separate Reality, was released in 2006 by Carroll & Graf and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Debut Fiction. He was the 2016 recipient of the Hazel Rowley Prize from BIO, the Biographer’s International Organization, for his biography in progress of Carlos Castaneda. His work has also appeared in Salon, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review Online, Confrontation, Ping Pong, The Alembic, and numerous other publications.
- Header art by Dave White. [↩]