Death by a Thousand Cuts

Flash Fiction

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Leticia is dressed in black with white pearls and low-heeled pumps. She’s at a funeral lunch after all. She’s relieved the long service is over, the dead woman, a distant relative of a friend, has been eulogized, blessed and buried. She can’t wait to quench her thirst with a cold glass of white wine. As she approaches the bar, a woman stops her: “Would you get me another?” she asks, holding up her champagne glass.

*

Leticia runs up the stairs of her apartment building — has to keep in shape. On her floor, the tenth, she walks down the hallway, breathing hard. The long hall is her cool down. A woman stops her: “Excuse me. Are you the new instructor in our fitness center?” Leticia shakes her head and the lady says, “Where are you going in such a hurry?” Leticia keeps walking. Long strides. Over her shoulder she hollers, “Home!”

*

Leticia just completed a half-marathon and she’s feeling rather proud of herself. Despite the buoyancy she feels from the accomplishment, she’s slogging through the park, carrying her sweaty clothes in a plastic bag on her way home. There, she will allow herself a blissful shower and maybe even an afternoon nap. She’s about to turn down her block when a man stops her, holding a dollar bill out to her. Leticia backs away, staring at the bill. She looks up at the man’s face and decides she’s too tired to explain. She quickly bypasses him and hurries on.

*

After work Leticia stops by a gift shop — her sister’s birthday is next week, and she loves bric-a-brac, for what reason Leticia will never know. Just adds more things to dust. The good news is that her sister is easy to please. The bad news is that one of the clerks keeps asking her if she can help her. Leticia has already told her that she’s looking for a gift for her sister. “Don’t know what she’ll want but I can tell you this, I’ll know it when I see it.”

The saleswoman continues to trail her. She interrupts her thinking, “How about these?” Leticia turns around to look at the woman holding up two mugs. “Aren’t these beautiful?” Leticia looks the saleswoman in the eye and, in a softer, lower voice, says, “I said I’ll know what she’ll want when I see it. I’m not going to steal anything if that’s what you’re worried about.”

The woman’s arms fly to her chest making an X while her mouth forms an O. “Gee, I was just trying to help.” Leticia thinks, if you want to help, then leave me flipping alone.

*

Leticia is at a party, this time dressed to the nines. Yes, she’s on the hunt. She loves the couple giving the party and hopes to find either a new friend or a new BOYfriend. A group invites her into their conversation circle which she’s happy to join. “We’re talking about our college days,” a man kindly informs her. “So,” a woman asks, “where did you go?” She answers, “Harvard.” The man says, “In Massachusetts?” She wants to sass back, “No, the one in Timbuktu.” But she doesn’t.

*

One work week has passed. Leticia has been mistaken for a waitress, a thief, a homeless person, a thief, and a person who attended a Harvard that isn’t in Massachusetts. This was one week — one week in her three decades. She’s bleeding. Five cuts this week alone.

Five.

born tricked out with anxiety, a reluctant traveler (www.areluctanttraveler.net), writer of travel memoir, facilitates writing workshops, loves hearing stories

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