Flash Fiction: Smouldering Alive

The prompt for this writing is “new year’s”. Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her books on Smashwords.


Smouldering Alive

by Cathy MacKenzie


Alice wasn’t sure of her plans for New Year’s Eve—or for the rest of the new year, for that matter. Her life hadn’t unfolded as she had hoped. While growing up, she had dreamt of the small, tidy bungalow with the white picket fence and two children (a boy and a girl, of course). But none of her dreams had materialized.

Over a decade previously, she had moved into her late mother’s single-wide mobile home located in Woodside Flats, located alongside railroad tracks with trains that never ceased lumbering by at every ungodly hour. Sometimes she overnighted with either a one-night stand or a horny old man thrust upon her by her pimp, though she wished she could sleep alone, forever in peace and quiet.

She sighed. New Year’s Eve, which was the following night, had arrived faster than she had expected. She had told Lyle, her pimp, she was unavailable that night, and she had no intention of seeking out a strange male. She wanted to do something special, just for herself.

While driving home, she made up her mind. She’d splurge for a luxury room at the Wiltshire Inn. She’d purchase an expensive bottle of wine, perhaps a rich Merlot, and fancy cheese and crisp crackers. And maybe a box of Renoir chocolates for when the clock struck twelve. She might even figure out the rest of her life while she relaxed.

A block before the turn into the mobile home park, she saw smoke wafting into the sky. A sickening feeling washed over her, and she lifted her foot from the gas. Fire trucks roared in the distance and reached her home seconds before she did—not that there was any home left. It wouldn’t take long for an ancient single-wide trailer to collapse into bent metal and burning embers.

Alice watched the flames from the safety of her car, picturing the fire devouring her second-hand sofa and pressboard furniture as if a ravenous brute had satisfied its urges. She could almost hear the Melamine plates and bowls and mugs crackling in the extreme heat and the dime store ornaments toppling into the inferno when the shelves gave way. Clothing would have been licked up instantaneously without a lingering trace. Shampoo and other liquids would have seeped from their plastic wombs when the containers melted in the heat. Or had it not happened that way at all? Would the tangible items, resigned to their fate, simply have given up and allowed themselves to be gobbled in one insane gulp?

She watched while men scurried from the red truck, which was almost as large as her former home, and doused the raging flames.

Stop, she thought. It’s too late.

But the firemen did their job—and did it well—though they couldn’t prevent incensed anger from accomplishing its goal.

She laughed. What a way to end the year: without a home. She wondered where her tears hid. Shouldn’t she be sobbing hysterically at the loss?

But no, she felt oddly elevated, satiated even. Relieved. She could finally move on. The trashy single-wide located in the even trashier trailer park had been holding her back, preventing her from following her dreams. The insurance money would be enough to start a new life.

She giggled. The timer had gone off as she’d been assured it would. Thank goodness for the sleezeballs she bedded. There’d be no trace of mischief, not in that mass of rubble.

While Alice waited for the police to arrive, for surely they would want to interview her, she tried to drum up tears. She’d then splurge on that luxury hotel one night sooner. She had no choice; what else could she do?



The Spot Writers:

RC Bonitz



Val Muller



Catherine A. MacKenzie



Kathy Price



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