Skip to Content

Share

Christine Lee Zilka: Maps

December 19, 2012

Flash Fiction: “Look for the swollen ones,” his mother said. “They said he drowned.”

http://www.guernicamag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3002928816_be150039b71.jpeg
Image from flickr via Manitoba Historical Maps

By Christine Lee Zilka

The bodies were maps of stories, another way in which the war spoke soundless miles. That one, with the gaping wound, had died from shrapnel or gunfire. That other one with the skin alternating between milky white spots and charred black had died in an explosion. That one, the skeletal one, had died of starvation.

“Look for the swollen ones,” his mother said. “They said he drowned.” Her whisper sawed through the air, and sounded loud as helicopters.

He searched for the bloated bodies, the ones that had been found in the rivers and on the banks of rivers. The most gruesome bodies of all. That one had been in the water for a long time. That one had been pulled out much earlier.

“Hold your rag up to your face.”

That one had long hair. Dae-Sang had short hair.

“Hold your rag up to your face.”

That one was too old. That one was too young.

“Let’s take a break.”

That one was a woman. That one’s face had suffered before dying. That one could be his brother, but the face was gone. That one had lost his leg. That one looked so perfect, who knew how he’d died.

“Have a sip of water. Gargle.”

But he couldn’t swallow, vomited instead, and couldn’t speak. He closed his eyes. Covered his ears. He could smell the end of the world in the air—the voices gone—instead the smoke like fuel exhaust, like detonated bombs, like burning wood, like blazing metal, like melting plastic, like scorched hair, like funerals, like incineration, like coal, like ash, like him.

Christine Lee Zilka is the Fiction Editor at Kartika Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals and anthologies such as ZYZZYVA, Verbsap, Newport Review, and Men Undressed. She was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook in 2006, placed as a finalist in Poets and Writers Magazine’s Writers Exchange Contest in 2007, and received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open in 2009. In addition to writing short stories, she has a novel in progress.


More End Times-themed flash fiction:

Steve Chang: Eternity

Julia Fierro: Inventory

Lauren K. Alleyne: The Way the Body Goes

You might also like

  • Stories by Students: This Is How the World EndsStories by Students: This Is How the World Ends Flash Fiction: But I have had the feeling for awhile that the end of the world isn’t necessarily a large tidal wave that will wipe out the entirety of the United States, or a huge volcanic eruption...
  • Julia Fierro: InventoryJulia Fierro: Inventory Flash Fiction: And despite her outward nonchalance, after Wyatt was born, when all she had at stake multiplied exponentially, she had come to see that terrible things – the witches and boogey men a...
  • Lauren K. Alleyne: The Way The Body GoesLauren K. Alleyne: The Way The Body Goes Flash Fiction: Sweet body, forgive me. I bore you so many petty hatreds—Ugly, I said. Dirty and weak. And yet, here is death, making such brief beauty of you.
  • Don Lee: The Ethnic Literature BoxDon Lee: The Ethnic Literature Box Christine Lee Zilka interviews Don Lee, author of the new novel The Collective, about cover-art Orientalism, character heritage, and the improbability of becoming a writer.

Readers like you make Guernica possible. Please show your support.

Tagged with:

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterAdd to BufferShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrSubmit to StumbleUpon
Submit to redditShare on App.netShare via email

You might also like

  • Stories by Students: This Is How the World EndsStories by Students: This Is How the World Ends Flash Fiction: But I have had the feeling for awhile that the end of the world isn’t necessarily a large tidal wave that will wipe out the entirety of the United States, or a huge volcanic eruption...
  • Julia Fierro: InventoryJulia Fierro: Inventory Flash Fiction: And despite her outward nonchalance, after Wyatt was born, when all she had at stake multiplied exponentially, she had come to see that terrible things – the witches and boogey men a...
  • Lauren K. Alleyne: The Way The Body GoesLauren K. Alleyne: The Way The Body Goes Flash Fiction: Sweet body, forgive me. I bore you so many petty hatreds—Ugly, I said. Dirty and weak. And yet, here is death, making such brief beauty of you.
  • Don Lee: The Ethnic Literature BoxDon Lee: The Ethnic Literature Box Christine Lee Zilka interviews Don Lee, author of the new novel The Collective, about cover-art Orientalism, character heritage, and the improbability of becoming a writer.

No comments for Christine Lee Zilka: Maps

Leave a comment




Anti-Spam Quiz:

Subscribe without commenting