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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Flash Fiction: 525 words
By Lorette C. Luzajic



The cold gray span of morning, the season’s second snow. We watch the weary world from our warm window, as winter settles softly on the city’s sloping roofs. Jane taps her vague reflection in the frosty glass, ghostly against the shuttered dormers across the way. She blinks hard, turns. She is crying again and I move aside to give her the space she needs.

Her hair was gone fast, barely a week after the first round of poison. We assumed it would be gradual. More recently, her eyebrows and eyelashes thinned close to bare. She hid both behind trendy oversized glasses.

I’ll make the coffee, I tell her. In a few minutes, I pour my promise from the percolator into her favourite mug, take it to her. Jane is standing in front of the mirror. I’m used to her this way already—if anything, she is even more beautiful to me. But she describes her loss as something violent and violating, like watching the years flowing down the drain. Says her independence and strength and desire have been ripped from her skull against her will.

I think she is thinking about this now, but she turns and tells me a different story. I just had a strange memory, she says, while looking at myself. When I was in college I had an unusual roommate. He was very beautiful but strange. His skin was milky and veiny, kind of translucent. Ethereal. He was a diva, sort of. Flamboyant but very timid. He wore the finest, pointiest kidskin shoes. He wore fake Hermes scarfs, with an array of knots, around his neck. He had nothing in the fridge except plain yogurt and Evian water. I wondered if he had an eating disorder. The weirdest thing, his wigs, glossy and silver or blue, meticulous, constructed haircuts. Hanging on the walls of his room ... they were like icicles, and like tarantulas crawling there!

A lot of us in college had unusual obsessions, so I just let him be.

Jane pauses, takes her coffee back to the window to watch the snow starting again, to look over the city she is so disconnected from now. The glass is glittery with shards of ice. She taps the window again, waves for my attention. Then she goes on. See, I saw myself this morning here, and across the years, out of the reflection, I saw him looking back at me. He was always so perfectly penciled, carefully coiffed. But in the mornings, I was surprised by how bare he was without makeup. His eyes were practically naked. His real hair was as thin and pale as a baby’s. I never connected the dots. It’s just the way he was. We got on just fine but lost touch after school. Truth be told, I forgot all about him.

Until this morning. Jane saw him staring back at her, across time. As if it was me, she says. But how could I know the signs way back when? She shivers. Presses a fingertip against the glass. Why was it a secret? she wonders. Something to carry alone? He must have been so cold.

Lorette C. Luzajic
Issue 23 (April 2024)

reads, writes, publishes, edits, and teaches flash fiction and prose poetry. Her own fiction and prose poems have appeared in Ghost Parachute, The Disappointed Housewife, Bending Genres, Unbroken, Trampset, The Citron Review, Flash Boulevard, New Flash Fiction Review, and beyond. Her works have been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart, Best Microfiction, and The Best Small Fictions. She won first place in a flash contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly. The author of four collections of small fictions and/or prose poems, The Rope Artist, The Neon Rosary, Pretty Time Machine, and Winter in June, she has also acted as judge for the Tom Park Poetry Prize.

Lorette is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to literature inspired by visual art. Her journal’s first print anthology, The Memory Palace, co-edited with Clare MacQueen, was released in March 2024. Lorette is also the founding editor of The Mackinaw, a journal of prose poetry, which debuted on 15 January 2024.

In addition, she’s an award-winning neoexpressionist artist who works with collage and mixed media to create urban, abstract, pop, and surreal works. She has collectors in thirty countries so far. She is also passionately curious about art history, folk horror, ancient civilizations, artisan and tribal jewelry, and culinary lore, to name a few.

Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Patience, and Other Virtues That I Lack, CNF by Lorette C. Luzajic in the Gratitude Issue (20X) of MacQueen’s Quinterly

Two Must-Read Books by The Queen of Ekphrasis, commentary in MacQ-9 (August 2021) by Clare MacQueen, with links to additional resources

Featured Author: Lorette C. Luzajic at Blue Heron Review, with two of her prose poems (“Disappoint” and “The Piano Man”); plus “Poet as Pilgrim,” a review of Pretty Time Machine by Mary McCarthy (March 2020)

Fresh Strawberries, an ekphrastic prose poem in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019), nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize

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