Dan Reiter

Flash Fridays

They talked about writing important things. Some wrote very popular things and could talk so as to make the very popular things they wrote seem important. They winnowed. They channeled. They allowed for marginalia.

Brown water, vomitus, sloshes up running boards, foams into door cracks, saturates floor mats. Engine side of the F-150 sinks first. Shoulder strap clicks snug. He tries the key. Spit of pink light on the dash. Tries the window.

The janitors boxed up the newsroom, powercleaned the cubicles, laid the typewriters finally ad acta. The remnant hung like winter fruit, noble scribes, spare and defunded, abandoned in the wilds to reflect the mutations of mankind, the sorrows of the Second Flood.

Three inches now, cooling his socks. Creeping teawater. He tries the key again. The window.

He wrote convocations on phytoplankton, algal blooms, oyster habitats. Wanted to believe “the children” would save the lagoon. On paddleboard through labyrinthine mangrove atolls, nights of bioluminescence, he wilded out schools of mantis-lit ghosts, comets, went breathless at the sight of the river mammals.

He unclicks his belt, tries the door. The river pushes back on him, pours in over his shins. Traceless surge, born from nothing. Virginal cloudburst. Gaia flushing herself clean.

Together now: the downward lurch of the vehicle, the plunging suck of glass, and the horrifying realization that the talking might have meant more than the writing in the end.


Dan Reiter‘s sudden fiction has appeared in Spork Press, McSweeney’s, Word Riot, Burrow Press Review, and other places. His story of the Shoah won The Florida Review Editor’s Award.


The Open Bar is currently accepting submissions for Flash Fridays and Flash Fidelity. Submissions to The Open Bar should be sent via email to theopenbar@tinhouse.com with the name of the category (e.g. Flash Fridays, Flash Fidelity, etc.) in the subject line.