New flash fiction by Paola Trimarco

Grizzly

Shit, no, she thought. He can’t be dead. He just can’t be.

Grizzly hadn’t woken up. He would sit in the same polyester shirt and trousers every time Angie saw him at the same table in the reference room. While she thumbed through career guides and circled job ads, he read only newspapers and at about 2:30 dozed off for some twenty minutes under the pages of the New York Times. Despite the stench of his unwashed clothes and silent farts, she didn’t mind sitting across from him. He seemed like a gentle soul who enjoyed a good read. Nothing wrong with that. Being there with him, this stranger, made her feel more authentic among the down and outs. She had to reach an all time low in order to delete the mess that had been her life and start anew. A phoenix couldn’t rise from the ashes if there weren’t any.


Grizzly wasn’t his real name. It was the name she gave him for his part in the private world in her head. With his tangled salt-and-peppered beard and Moses hair, he reminded her of the character of Grizzly Adams from the old television programme she watched as a child.


It was 4:30 and he was still asleep. Not even the slightest twitch. No asthmatic breathing. She feigned a few coughs to stir him. But nothing happened.


He’s dead. She was sure of it now. Grizzly had become just a shell of a life, left behind, slumped forward on the industrial-strength wooden table. She glanced at his head and suddenly thought she had mistaken him with someone else – was this Grizzly? Or was it some old woman? An old homeless woman that would be her – that perhaps was her – a glitch in the time space continuum had placed her with her older self. Her heart jumped. She stuffed her notepad into her briefcase and sped to the door.

• Paola Trimarco is a playwright and author. Her short stories and essays have appeared in several literary magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian. Her play The Seventh Magpie is going to premiere at The Pulse Festival 2007.

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