Flash Fiction: “Caul” by Vajra Chandrasekera
I only love girls who love to swim, but I don’t like to see them in the water. Like the sea just fine with nobody swimming in it and me with dry sand under me and a cold beer in my hand. They tell me I’m missing something, but I won’t budge. Maybe that’s why they don’t come back.
Vajra Chandrasekera lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. His short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and Black Static, among others. You can follow him on Twitter via @_vajra or find more of his stories at vajra.me.
Main Story: “Two-Headed Girl” by Paul G. Tremblay
I have to keep swinging an extra fifteen minutes before I can go downtown and to the Little Red Bookstore, because Mom wants to run the dishwasher and the blender tonight. I wonder if my time on the swing will generate enough extra juice for those appliances, or even if she’s telling me the truth. I’ve been having a hard time with telling-truth or truth-telling.
Anne Frank is on my left again. I only ever get to see her in profile. Whenever I’m around a mirror she is always someone else. Today, she’s the early-in-her diary Anne, the same age as me. Anne spent most of my swinging afternoon pining for Peter, but now she wants to talk to Lies, her best friend before the war.
She says, “I feel so guilty, Lies. I wish I could take you into hiding with me.”
I get this odd, stomach-knotty thrill and I pretend that she really knows me and she is really talking to me. But at the same time, I don’t like it when she calls me Lies. I say, “I’m sorry, Anne, but I’m Veronica.” The words come out louder than I intended. I’m not mad at her. I could never be mad at Anne. It’s just hard to speak normally when on the downswing.
Paul G. Tremblay is the author of A Head Full of Ghosts, coming from William Morrow on June 2nd. He is also the author of The Little Sleep, No Sleep Till Wonderland, and In the Mean Time. His fiction and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous “year’s best” anthologies. Paul has served as the president of the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards.
You can find him online at paultremblay.net.
About the Narrators:
Rish Outfield is a writer, actor, and podcaster that can be heard as host of The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, which presents genre stories with a full cast. He also performs audiobooks for Audible, and occasionally becomes a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the moon is full and bright.
Janice Joos hails from the Midwestern United States where she lives in a constant state of motion with her husband, two children, one dog, two cats and a turtle. Trained and working as a classroom teacher of all levels, she realized she talked all the time or read stories — so why not become a voice talent too? Since 2013 she has been listening to herself talk. For more information contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.