Their Days Are Numbered is a new year-long project authored by the collective Entropy community. It is a collaborative online novel written by the Entropy community on a weekly basis. A different author will write the next “chapter” each week, to be posted every Tuesday, following the previous post from the previous week, and following a very limited set of guidelines (that each author has one week to write the next piece after the previous week’s installment goes up, that installments should range between 150-1500 words, and that pieces should somehow incorporate a real-life occurrence, current event, news item, or other happening from that week).
Follow the entire “novel” here: Their Days Are Numbered.
The thirty-fourth installment is presented this week by Robert Vaughan.
Last Exit From Liberty
In a town the size of Liberty, the news spreads faster than an airborne virus. Just leave, she thought, follow your intuition. It would be easy enough.
She paced up and down the black and white kitchen floor, back and forth. She wondered if they’d tapped her telephone.
The wind gusted, the limbs of a maple tree scraped against her roof.
She grabbed her cell phone, took three deep breaths, and dialed her sister in Montana.
“I’m coming for a visit,” Cora told Madge. She peeked through a corner of the kitchen curtains. The police were still parked outside. And some news van with its station’s logo on the side.
“You’re what?” Madge asked, her nasal tone grating.
“Driving out, leaving tonight.” Cora glanced in the hall mirror, noticed the two dark circles under her eyes. She walked toward the bedroom, intending to lay down. Instead she stood in the doorway, stared at the bed.
“Oh.” Madge paused. “Are you sure you can leave, so…so-”
“I’m sure,” Cora nodded. “Yes, I have to get away.” She sat on the living room sofa, counted the bills from a tan envelope in her purse.
“But, why so sudden?” Madge asked. “Are you in trouble again?”
It was the way she said again. “No, it’s not me,” Cora said. Two hundred dollars. That ought to be enough. She tucked the envelope back into her purse.
“Is it Mitch?” Madge asked. “He didn’t hit you again, did he?”
“No.” Cora fell silent. Should I tell her? Everyone else in Liberty knew. And it was better coming from her twin sister than some tacky news story.
“He was arrested, Madge.”
“Arrested?” Madge said. “ARRESTED? Oh, heavens to Betsy.”
“Yeah,” Cora said. “It sucks.”
“What was it this time? DUI?” Madge guessed. “Or did he beat somebody up at Barbers?”
Cora closed her eyes. “It’s porn.” And that was way less than half of it. What she wouldn’t tell her sister was the rest: it was kiddie porn. Mitch, in the leading role.
She dropped the phone, rushed to the bathroom, hand over her mouth.
There was a pause, the phone dangled over the edge of the sofa.
Robert Vaughan is the author of three collections of poetry: Microtones (2012); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (2013); and Addicts & Basements (2014). He also edited Flash Fiction Fridays (2011) and is senior editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazine. His awards include Micro-Fiction (2012), and Gertrude Stein Awards (2013, 2014). He will teach a week long workshop called Poetry & Fiction at The Clearing in Door County, WI in October, 2015.