This week for our Short Story Month Showcase we focus on flash fiction, and are pleased to introduce this theme with a brilliant piece by Blake Kimzey. Kimzey is currently shortlisted for this year’s anthology with his story “Picketers,” but we were so taken with his work, we wanted the opportunity to publish him here. “The Boy and The Bear” achieves what all great flash fiction aims to achieve in that readers live in a fully imagined world, even if for only a short time. This story is both magical and sad, and we were immediately drawn to the quality of the writing and the story’s fable-like quality. Simply put, you won’t forget this one. To enjoy more of Kimzey’s work, consider purchasing a copy of his forthcoming chapbook, out by Black Lawrence Press later this year.
Image credit: MJCWildLifeArt
The Boy and The Bear
by Blake Kimzey
The boy woke in the forest, covered in snow, and blinked at the nickel-sized flurries falling on his face. He looked closely at his forearms and hands: dark black hair, brittle as icicles, and claws that shone like dull bone. He lay under the hangover of a jagged stand of rocks near the banks of a river carrying drift ice southward. A large black bear had its snout near the boy’s face, its breath warm and wet. Wind blew snow from the shoulders of the tall pines on either side of the river and cracking wood echoed through the forest.
The boy focused on the bear before him and didn’t move. The boy was cold, his nose frozen with ice that cleaved as he drew in full, waking breaths. His lungs burned with the deepness of his breathing. The boy couldn’t remember how long he had been asleep, hibernating. When he entered the forest months ago, a chill hung in the air and the mountains loomed beyond the balding tree limbs. Now everything was white, bits of brown peeking through at the base of trees and where outsized boulders broke through the powder. The boy had run from his village until he was lost among the pines and small earthen dens that pockmarked the hard packed ground. That was some time ago. His arms and legs had been covered in a soft down of fur then, as if a watercolorist had put the boy on an easel and gone to work detailing every hair.
As he looked at the bear the boy thought of his parents. His mother and father had locked him in the root cellar after his ears grew pointed and his teeth became too long and sharp for his mouth to contain. They said they wouldn’t feel safe with a bear living in the house, not after his brother had roared forth from their front door four years before and pawed through the village before being shot near the church, which anchored the village, its white steeple rising skyward to the lightening rod atop the wooden cross. His brother continued toward the thick wood leaving a trail of blood and disappeared into the dense summer foliage.
Read the rest of the story, here.