Here, in micro-flash nonfiction, writers make quick work of compelling stories. During July 2020, we present short takes on work and working.
by Rich Giptar
I worked in a room with willow crosses and laminated mantras on the walls, comfy mismatched chairs and crumb-dotted rugs. Tea and coffee were always on tap, and a variety pack of biscuits was open on the purple camping table. It was a strange enclave in the otherwise streamlined university building.
I listened to students and staff unpack and pile up their problems like cairns. With my chair at an obtuse angle (this was important), I offered gentle affirmation. Sometimes the men would grow flirtatious and I would stiffen. I realized they confused the listening, the emotional honesty, for love.
by Grace Giesbrecht
When the massive white sails were hauled tight against the wind, the tall ship tilted, and the kitchen I worked in tilted too. I learned to cook standing barefoot at a 45 degree angle, with one hip jammed into the cabinets and the opposite foot braced against the far wall.
Cakes made under these conditions were known by the wild-eyed and strong-minded cooks who came before me as port-starboard cakes: they baked on the ship’s tack and the wind’s rules, and tasted better for it.
by Dali Vera
Five minutes to fry eggs before I leave for the police station. I put the oil on high, take the eggs out of the fridge. They sizzle, start solidifying. I count each minute down to four. Now my sneakers are on, the eggs are over easy, and I am plating the sausage and pancakes, calling my daughter.
“Jade, te amo, made your favorites.”
Give her a hug, grab my keys, dial my partner from the social service agency. “What’s your ETA?”
“Just shoving breakfast down. What’s the allegation?”
I think I hear him choking.
“I’ll be right there.”
Who’s the Boss?
by Tain Leonard-Peck
Machete, sledgehammer, brush-cutter, rake.
The summer sun sears the land, baking the soil dry and burning my skin like newspaper in a fireplace. Water for the equipment goes in the bed, along with a roll of fencing. Next come the mowers, awkwardly loaded, weight shifting constantly. I get scratched by a hot horn.
The tailgate shuts with a satisfying click. I look up, locking eyes with one of my workers. Curious and vibrant, always hungry.
In theory, the goats work for me.
by Erika Rundle
I was three days out. The first two felt like breathing clean air into starved lungs. My head tilted higher by several degrees. Inexplicably, my peripheral vision had expanded—I could see clearly out of the corners of my eyes. I took a walk and felt that I could continue indefinitely.
The following day was rainy. I was caught off balance by a depth charge. The waves threw me against a rocky beach, abandoned and littered with garbage. I turned things over, confirming their absolute uselessness.
Don’t wait so long next time, I thought. Just quit at the first sign.
About the Writers
Rich Giptar is a writer from southern England who has held a variety of jobs. Their work has appeared in Perhappened, FlashFlood, Teen Belle and Versification. Tweet @richgiptar.
Grace Giesbrecht is a Media/Communications Major at Trinity Western University. She spent a summer as a cook on a tall ship on the Pacific Ocean, sailing along the coast of British Columbia.
Dali Vera writes about balancing her family life with her work in social services. She has taught English as second language and is a first-year student in the Bay Path MFA in Creative Nonfiction program.
Tain Leonard-Peck is a high school student and world traveler who currently lives on his family’s farm on Martha’s Vineyard. He writes, paints, and composes music, and is a competitive sailor, skier, and fencer.
Erika Rundle is an independent scholar and creative writer. Her essays and reviews have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She also works as a teacher, translator, dramaturg, and performer for theater and film.
The Quick Work series is curated by Multiplicity Contributing Editor, Kate Whouley.