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Flash Fiction by Girija Tropp
  Recitals by Peter Bryne
  Art by Girija Tropp
'Madscape Web' (c) 2005-2006 Girija Tropp

Bollywood Times

Rhonya figures that karma is about surrender. She can smell beer on her sister's breath and leans forward to breathe it in. Her sister asks a favor. "A journalist wants to make a documentary of our childhood."

"My uncle is a famous film director," Rhonya tells the journalist. "Have you seen the film Selma, Selma?"

"Did you kill him?"

"As a fictional character created by my father, I am not responsible for my actions." She tells him, chuckling, how the color purple can be disturbing.

"A childhood association?" His attention is completely on Rhonya. Her sister, who is missing out again, says the money should be spent on a lawyer. Rhonya has no patience with a God that makes people deposit their money in his bank.

She sends the money offered for her story to the tsunami victims, keeping back only enough to procure paint boxes such as a kinder child might use and watercolor paper on which she sketches giant waves. On the shore, purple amoebic blobs are in various stages of absorption into the sand.

The journalist writes: A father keeps a woman locked in the storeroom with the piled-up grain and the rats, a cure for madness, and never responds to screams except when his needs require attention.

There is also the cell to which the police take her after they find her father dead--his heart stopped from loving. "He deserved it," her sister says!

The police will not write down her truth. How she was rescued by a genie appearing out of the lamp; how her life was to be peeled like an apple to find the core; how the genie spoke of apple being different to apple. A tale of Eve bringing down Adam?

As she jerks off her father, the sense of his failings pierce Rhonya like the rotting meat hidden in Selma's wedding veil….

Do you recall the movie? How Selma was thrown into a cell by the police after she killed her true love? After he and his brothers raped her in the attic; and when she found a good man after all and married him and everyone was thinking finally-all-is-rewarded, the mother-in-law set Selma's bedroom on fire; luckily her one-and-only true love, her childhood friend, happened to be passing by, a thing he used to do because he had not stopped loving her all those years.

In her terms, even though she has done surrender, Rhonya is not an occurrence in the physical universe but a state of reverie, a place that is beautiful and erotic.

Rhonya holds purple-stained fingers up to the ceiling where a fan whirs soundlessly. It is not hot, and there is no need for a fan, but Rhonya believes she is fated to be cooled by an ill wind. She grows thin and thinner. With her feet drawn up under her gray skirt, her face on her knees, she looks like a hound waiting for instruction.

'Madscape Web' (c) 2005-2006 Girija Tropp

Stare at your crusty toenails and think about being young. Of me and you and one-night-stands. You are twenty and I am fourteen.

This is the moonlit corner of the beach house, here's my verandah, and here's me. Soundless light washes to my bed, the wavy border on which my dream is sailing.

The hash was black and sexy.

You haggled over the jade with the shopkeeper. You said you didn't want the baksheesh, but the shopkeeper insisted, so you took the hash and we ate it and declared it premium quality. The inner wave on which my dream is sailing.

I wish you were free so I could come up and say hello. You'd say, how are you? I'd try and make you comfortable, if you were in my place--and entertain you and so on. In reverse if we were at yours. And if we met somewhere else, I'd be on my way to pay the bills and we'd stop and chat for a mo. What if the clock stops ticking?

Do not mention the time we met by accident in Bangkok. Not to your wife.
Your solicitor wants me to be a character witness.

I wonder about you and young girls. People do things in other countries that they don't do at home. Or it could have been a tourist thing. Also, being older, you might be different now.

Sometimes life is more dream than life. I see something happening, I ought to protest, but I don't; the moment passes; the happening becomes unreal. If there is a second opportunity and nothing is done, then the dream becomes real.

My feet are lifting. If I could have anything, I'd float. I'd bounce off walls and chop your feet with the garden spade leaning against the fence. Do not ask me to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

'Madscape Web' (c) 2005-2006 Girija Tropp

In the pouring rain, the boys flounced after the football; a water polo, a geyser of bodies; the umpire with his whistle and the ball in the air more often than not. A woman in a fleecy red jumpsuit bumped him with her umbrella. Sorry, she said as if she'd hurt him badly. His smeary glasses turned the grounds into a daub of paint with kayaks sprinting from side to side.

He doesn't usually come to the football--doesn't like the pushing and shoving. But now that his world had shaken, he had to rethink his boundaries. Yesterday, in the middle of packing, he found an empty journal belonging to HER, the woman he'd lived with for a few centuries. She'd left a thumbprint of cinnamon on the last page. He held it to his nose and when he ran out of air, went outside and found a one-winged butterfly. It was perched on the mailbox; a white plastic bucket hung on the tree by a nail.

Her parents used to play tip-cat on the football oval when they came visiting. The cat was a stick of wood about a foot long and two inches in diameter around the middle. "Are we in the colonies?" they said, looking at the unmown grass and the Patterson's Curse over the fence line. They were English. He was surprised to find that they smelt of tea.

The woman with the umbrella came up and asked if he would like to share a doughnut. So was this it, was she the flavor of the month? The sugar had spread into the papery corners of her mouth and lightened her lipstick. He tried to figure it out because he was willing to suitcase his past, and head somewhere different, for the sake of his kids he had said, and there was the moment he saw the butterfly and thought about the beautiful maimed all in the one breath.

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