In the Books

Flash
Anna Moriarty Lev


Book
Photo Credit: Lalena Jaramillo

We have forgotten more than we will remember. That’s how it is here. We make memories at the Factory of Remembering, but they get shipped off to faraway places. We don’t keep much remembering for ourselves. It’s a precious commodity and does better to make us a little money, or to trade for food and lumber.

There aren’t any trees because we cut them all down a long time ago for writing books. Our ancestors wanted to keep track of everything that happened, since everyone forgets easily, so they wrote it all down in volumes upon volumes of books. They’re beautiful: hand-sewn, titles pressed into the covers in what looks like gold. The pages are creamy and smell like the wind through clean hair. The books are kept in several libraries and anyone can check the books out and read them for free. Some people say they shouldn’t have cut down all those trees, that it would have been better to find some other way to keep track of the stories. But most people love the books and they are well taken care of.

There’s one old lady who lives in a cave. She remembers. Some say it’s the fumes from the factory getting into her system, some say she steals memories and keeps them for herself. She used to tell stories at night and all the children went to sit in her living room to drink tea. The stories were about forests and the people who got lost in them. Wild winds sweeping up houses. Lovers running away together. We’d sip our hot tea and listen, nodding, imagining these pictures in our heads.

Eventually we all forgot about the old woman and her stories. The memories left us and we forgot everything. We started watching television. It relaxes our minds, easing the stress we feel at trying to remember the names of people sitting next to us, or how we came to meet the other person in our bed.

We read because the books are all we have to tell us who we are. We feel the pages between our fingers and run our eyes back and forth over the words. We can sit in the library together, reading our own books, experiencing this magic in our own heads but also knowing you are right there just an arms reach away so I could touch your fingers and know you feel it too, even if I can’t remember your name.

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Anna Moriarty Lev’s short stories have been published in Bateau, Toasted Cheese, Every Day Fiction and DASH. Her self-published comic books are sold in shops around the country, and she posts some comics online at Lev Hardware. Anna also works at an art-house cinema in Massachusetts and makes very good popcorn. Email: annamolev[at]gmail.com

Night Birds

Flash
Anna Moriarty Lev


window
Photo Credit: Rebecca/BookMama

There was a stirring in her heart, an uncomfortable feeling she could not explain. When her mother asked what was wrong, she could only think to answer that a ship had sailed, and that its return was unforeseeable.

Perhaps it’s time you married, her mother said, gesturing to the line of suitors outside the door.

No, it’s not that, she replied. But agreed to see them anyway.

The first was too tall, and his voice traveled down to her in an echo. The second spoke too little for her comfort. The third had never read poetry. And so it went on.

The next morning she woke clutching her chest, a pinching pain restricting her breath.

Perhaps you have a broken heart, her mother said, do you sleep with the window open?

She did, and her mother explained how the night birds fly in through open windows while we sleep to steal our dreams and leave us with false ones, half-truths that haunt us as we wake.

If they’re hungry enough, her mother continued, they’ll peck at your heart, carrying pieces of it away so that it can never be fully repaired. I speak from experience.

The girl wondered at her mother’s experience, who and what she had loved in the past. Which pieces of her heart were missing. As her mother walked away to the kitchen and breakfast, the girl thought her a stranger.

 

There is a secret cavern deep in the Andes Mountains, closed off by a large boulder and hidden by optical illusions of the sun. In the deepest corner, tiny scraps of pink muscle tissue are preserved in a strange substance. There is some evidence of nests and eggshells, but no birds can be seen, only shadows.

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Anna Moriarty Lev likes to tell all kinds of stories. In addition to flash fiction, she also writes plays and makes comic books. Her self-published titles Shelf Life and Fish Dreams can be found at comic book stores around the country. Her work has also been published in Bateau and Good Days, Bad Days. Please visit Lev Hardware for more of Anna’s work. If you can’t find her, she’s probably in a dark movie theater somewhere, watching something and eating popcorn. Email: annamolev[at]gmail.com