Flash Fiction: Centering the Label

Flash Fiction

Hour 49 in flash fiction land. Photo: jontintinjordan, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Hello and welcome to fiction world today. This is my latest flash fiction piece. Thanks to all who stop by to read about the hour 49.


Centering the Label

Mark blinked and then blinked again, harder, trying to get his eyelids to create moisture for the dry sockets around them.

49 hours.

It had been 49 hours since he last slept. And his eyes were open again.

Mark opened the kitchen cupboard. It was another type of again. He checked that the labels of the soup cans were facing forwards. Chicken noodle, turkey and wild rice, vegetable beef. Next, he checked that the same varieties were stacked on top of one another. Chicken noodle on the left side of the middle shelf; vegetable beef to its right; turkey and wild rice on the furthest right side. Then the white wall of the cupboard to the right of that.

The wall. He hadn’t seen the wall coming when he was driving the car. It wasn’t as though he wanted that to happen. That.

Were the chicken noodle labels turned a little too much to the left? As Mark reached out to center the cans, his mind reached for additional questions. His soul reached for Monica.

His shaking hand knocked one of the cans and it toppled onto the countertop below. The bang of the can as it met the off-white laminate countertop was loud, and it made him jump.

He looked down at the can, now dented on its side, and cursed the moisture that came to his eyes. Now.

How had he not seen the wall? How was it that he could not get the lifeless body of Monica out of his head, folded over in the passenger side of the car?

The crash. Her body. This sudden silence. How he wished Monica had survived.

50 hours. He blinked again.



58 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Centering the Label

  1. Aquileana

    Great literary effect built around a traumatic event..

    I believe that the the greatest achievement of your flash fiction is is the parallel built among the can incident and the car accident …

    Shaking hand, knocking cans… Crashing. awaking to avoid sleeping
    I also found as a great hit the idea that the main character regrets not having seen that wall and the fact that he can´t sleep by the moment.

    The burden of sleepless 49/50 hours is equivalent to the weight of bad conscience and the regrets.
    After all, one thing is undeniable: the aftermaths of that misfortune may not find a chronological acquittal

    Absolutely magnificent, Christy.
    Many hugs; Aquileana 😛


    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Hi Aqui,

      So glad you picked up on the can/car parallels here. The crashes are both physical and mental too… so there is that level, as well.

      Oh yes, the 49th hour is tough one for Mark, and I do hope he gets some sleep soon! You explain the aftermaths here so well and I am delighted (at Mark’s expense, sadly) that it intrigued you!

      Many smiles, many hugs and thanks so much for your beautiful comment ♥


  2. Eric Alagan

    Hello ChristyB,

    Love how you juxtaposed the accident with his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Did the accident trigger his OCD? Perhaps his OCD triggered the accident – the wall should not be there and it can’t be there – Wham!

    Plenty to delve into this character driven story.


  3. penpusherpen

    So emotionally held, Christy, his holding onto his sanity the only way he could, by obsessing. about something other than ‘it’, The Wall,. Great read, so well written. xPenx


    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Exactly, Pen. The obsessive behavior is a way to keep control on some level… That means a lot to know that you understood the character, as that means I was able to express it in a solid way. Thank-yoU!


  4. Letizia

    You’re able to express so much in so few words. We can see the poet at work in the flash fiction. Mark trying to make sense of it all, the labels of the cans was a great touch.


  5. Sue Dreamwalker

    OCD is something that can be buried deep. This descriptive piece of writing has you wondering which came first the Crash or the OCD? and it gave insight into the long lonely hours of self recriminations…
    Sending you a centred thought in the power of One… as your day begins and my afternoon progresses..
    Love and Light Christy… you shine.. 🙂


    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Hi Sue, your comment is true that it’s left to the reader to decide whether the crash or the OCD came first… I will not reveal which one I had in mind as I wrote 🙂 After all, what fun would that be? Thank-you for the powerful thought and the kindness you bring. Sending a hug xo


  6. seanbidd

    Offset timelines across dual instances tempering a link between recollection upon the collision, resulting outcomes, and the present fringe his mind and body exist through sleep deprivation, top work on slipping seamless between each as the story progressed, Christy,


      1. seanbidd

        Being tired, and hungry, can be akin to intoxication, he needs to sleep first, then refuel, and that’s when it’ll hit him. Difficult time ahead for Mark, and family all around, hard on all.


  7. Cyan Ryan

    Wonderful! I love the OCD coupled with the insomnia Christy, it captures the symptoms of a mind fractured with grief quite nicely.

    Reminded me of my 200th poem about an insomniac who is mourning the loss of his wife to a car crash, which was complete fiction, which was unusual for me as most of what I write is allegorically related to something in my personal life. I suppose I had wanted to do something different as at the time 200 seemed like a large number to me!


    January 28, 2006 Saturday

    “Remember Me”
    by Ry Hakari

    Wake and yawn twice
    Stretch then get up
    It’s how I start my days
    But not today
    I didn’t sleep last night
    Once again
    The second time this weekend
    I can’t without your body
    Next to mine
    My wife
    My life
    Two days ago
    When you passed
    I wish I had died too
    A drunken wife stealer
    Ran you over
    The reality of this
    Hasn’t completely hit me yet
    But when it does
    I know I’ll be
    Knocked flat
    On my back
    I can’t face today
    It’s Sunday
    I should be at church
    But I just can’t get out of bed
    I haven’t eaten since that day
    Both our pillows
    Are sopping wet
    They bury you Monday
    It shouldn’t have happened this way
    I would take your place
    If God would let me
    Without his grace
    You wouldn’t be in heaven
    And you had grace
    So I know
    You’re up there
    Looking down at me
    I can’t see your picture
    On my side of our bed
    My eyes are too blurry
    Swollen and puffy
    To even see the light
    Coming in
    From our widow
    The red silk drapes
    Were your favorite
    I loved you so much
    Before this
    And even more now
    The drunk bastard
    Who killed you
    And took you
    Away from this life
    And me
    Is a coward
    And now
    He’s scared sober
    Praying for God
    To forgive him
    I deserve to die for this
    I’m the reason
    I’m missing you
    It was my
    First promotion
    And in celebration
    I went out drinking
    With friends from work
    I was so happy
    We could afford
    To have a baby
    While on my way
    Home from
    Our small town’s bar
    All I could think
    About was the baby
    We hadn’t had yet
    Turning into our driveway
    You came out
    To greet me
    I didn’t see
    I was too drunk to see
    I drove through you
    And the garage
    Totaling the car
    Crushing you
    And killing you
    Our anniversary
    Would have been
    One whole year
    I would take my life today
    But I know
    What you would say
    Remember me
    And I’m only here
    Laying here
    And crying here
    Because you loved me
    And showed me
    And would want me
    To life my life
    Can you forgive me?
    Can you forgive me too?
    I’m sorry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christy Birmingham Post author

      Ry, W.O.W. What a story you told in that poem! What torment that would have been and you explain it so well. The ending of asking for forgiveness is one you so hope he comes to feel, as we really have to believe it inside to move forward… I understand it was a metaphor for something in your real life and I hope you find your own level of forgiveness as you move forward and continue to grow in life.

      Thank you for the kind words on the flash fiction. It’s a little intense, a little deeper level and a little bit of darkness. I send you a whole lot of happy for taking the time to write such a wonderful comment to me and show me your 200th poem! Yes, by the way, 200 is still a wonderful milestone, my friend!

      I hope you are having a nice Sunday,

      Liked by 1 person


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