This week, we are excited to share a short story by Mica Bahn (’20). Mica hails from Manhattan and is an English major interested in creative writing. The author that inspired her to begin her writing career was Betty Smith at the tender age of 9. She looks forward to someday painting her kitchen a warm yellow-orange. Thank you to Mica for sharing this piece with us!
a flash fiction piece by
The sky outside the cafe window is a dim grey. I only notice I’ve zoned out when a gust of wind, coming off some distant prairie, slams into the building and rattles the glass. Blinking, the women’s clinic across the street comes back into focus and I look away. Ten to nine. I open up Messenger and quickly close it. Maybe take off the rings, you’ll appear childish. As I drop them into my backpack, my fingers brush against the remnants of a granola bar I’d eaten on my flight back from London, a few weeks ago. The crumbs, spilled at the bottom of my bag, have sat there grinding smaller and smaller against yesterday’s lunch fork, makeup, and last Saturdays tiny bottle of jack. I’ve been so distracted of late and homework has become an arduous process that battles against a need to be with people all the time, so this backpack ends up accompanying me everywhere. I drag the bottom and scoop up the crumbs, a fist full of them and other little treasures. Picking through, I pause. Amongst the raisin, oat, flax—tiny pebbles. Near translucent, smooth and dull. Green, Blue, and White. I raise one to my eye, and peer in, studying the distorted light that filters through. Sea glass.
Roll them between your thumb and forefinger. The sea is sensuous, the sun so hot your bodies have become slick with sweat. Not a cloud in the blue Brighton sky and the Ferris wheel rises against the water on the peer. You lean back on your elbows, absently picking through the pebbly beach. Archie, having just poked the small barbecue back to life, leans back next to you, stretches out his damp, bare limbs. Image of a young Adonis, but with an earring. His long hair falls gently against his forehead. A seagull’s call. Children laughing. You are surrounded by beachgoers, but their sounds are muffled—it’s the two of you on your blanket, running your hands through the tiny rocks as you search together.
“Alright, here one is,” he says softly. His native West Country accent has come out in the last couple days, as you spend time with his friends from Gloucestershire. He lifts it up to show you, and the small blue jewel comes into focus. You hand him the box of Camels and he drops it in. Arch rolls onto his stomach and you watch the muscles on his shoulders flex as he draws his arms up. You settle onto your back next to him. Start to trace your fingers around in circles on his warm back. Lace them through the notches of his spine. He smiles, eyes closed.
“Pasty, pasty boy,” you tease, pressing gently against the pink appearing on his skin.
“You know, Addie, now that you’ve been here a term you might as well transfer for good.”
“And after, when they try to deport me?”
“We’ll get married of course,” he says without opening his eyes.
“Of course, how could I forget about marriage!”
Your fingers continue their rhythmic movement. His friends will be by in a moment and you’ll all take the train back to London. In the morning, at Archie’s flat, you’ll keep rubbing your chest at the strange sensation of a heart turning soft and fluid, but you won’t say anything. When you run to catch the tube to class, your cigarettes will spill in your bag and the little stones will fall to the bottom.
Little transplants, forgotten and found in Minnesota. Their irony is delicious. Archie. Archie. We’ll get married of course. Once, while walking hand in hand I noticed we looked like perfect opposites: He, in a black turtleneck tucked into black jeans, I, in a white t-shirt tucked into white painter-pants, bouncing on clean new Filas. The ideal hipster bride and groom.
Marry me Archie, marry me. We’ll do what married people do. Pebble still in hand, I trace small circles on my stomach, then against the cool glass of my phone and after a moment hit the home button. Its face comes to life: 9:00am. Across the street, a woman appears in the window of the clinic to unlock the door. I open messenger and give it a moment to speak. They say wait seven seconds after asking a question to give people the chance to respond. So, I count my breaths. The pebble falls with the dirt back to the bottom of my bag, and I rise.