Cantos: A Literary and Arts Journal (fiction)
Cantos is a literary and arts journal based out of the greater St. Louis area. In 2017, I had four pieces published in volume 23 of Cantos, including three poetry pieces and a flash fiction piece.
The following work is my flash fiction piece. This piece is a dramatized story of a traveler who experiences bouts of anxiety, fear, and eventual triumph.
Here I sit, staring into the road, trying to muster up the courage to cross it; I am only steps away now. If only my friends could see me—so brave, so courageous. I hear a car approach.
“Vrooooom,” the roar of the engine startles me. I see the driver single-handedly shift gears in his red sports car, cigarette in mouth, cell phone in the other hand.
Within seconds he is gone, leaving a trail of dust in his wake. I take one step closer to the road, gulp, and close my eyes.
“Come on, you can do it” I tell myself. Why am I so scared? It is only a road after all, how dangerous could it be…
Then, all of a sudden, I open my eyes to the sound of screeching; this time it is not tires I hear. It is a hawk up above, circling me and sensing my fear. I try not to stare into her black face, for surely then her fierce, beady eyes will pierce my very soul and that will be the end of me as I know it.
I inch away from the road, trembling and quaking in the fear of the unknown. What will happen if I cross? Will things change; will it make a difference to my peers; who will see me differently and who will see me the same? I want to be brave; I need to be brave.
I remember my mother’s words: “Do not let fear rule in your mind. Take heart in the face of danger or uncertainty; there is great reward for those who take risks.” Hearing her encouraging voice in my head, I chin up and face the asphalt in front of me. I draw strength from inside and breathe deep.
In and out, in and out, in and out. I can feel my pulse quicken. This is it. This is where I make my stand. I know the risks. I have weighed all the possible outcomes. I squint to see the other side of the road in my way; I see greener grass and fairer weather ahead. I will march into this void, ready to persevere anything that might be thrown my way.
I inhale sharply one last time and step forward. And then another step forward. And then another. And then another, until suddenly my feet are on the pavement.
I have begun my journey. And just like that, as if on queue, I hear the sound of an engine. My heart drops, my eyes water, and I begin to panic.
There is no turning back now. I am already here!
What do I do?! After sending up an anxious prayer, I start moving faster. I am halfway there. The car is almost here now; I hear the hawk screech.
I stretch my body, gasping for air in between my screams
The car swerves to miss me, and I feel it shave my body. I stumble and land face down on the
hot, black road.
I raise my head to examine the damage done to my body. Nothing appears to be cracked and
blood is nowhere to be seen. I am alive! “I AM ALIVE!” I scream.
I pick myself up and finish my journey.
After stepping off the pavement, I look around to see my fellow turtle friends. They gaze at me in wonder.
Few have survived the trip across the highway. They raise their voices in whoops and shouts. “Make her the clan leader!”
“HOW DID YOU DO IT?!”
“Are you single?!”
I smile to myself, and sigh, “Oh, what a day to be a turtle!”
You can read more from Cantos here.