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August 27th at 3:43 p.m. Flash Fiction by Thomas Elson

At this stage in his life he worried about everything.

Five days before his seventy-eighth birthday, he scanned his body.

Eyes cloudy. Nose runny. Teeth in need of rehab. Ears well past prime.

Base of skull pounding. Neck gnaws.

Left shoulder – his shoulder replacement – throbbing. Left arm sore.

Hands inflamed despite two hand surgeries.

Lungs in need of twice daily maintenance. Chest near heart sore.

Fourth lumbar in chronic pain.

Knees stiff and walking difficult despite two knee replacements.

Ankle fragile. Arches decrepit. Toes stiff.

Stomach sour. Bowels temperamental. Urine slow.

Often confused when people talk. Often distasteful and distrustful.

He used to be able to slip in and out of denial, but today, at this moment, he has readied himself. He has about twenty minutes left to live.

But then he received a call - from his oldest grandson.

“What would you like for your birthday, grandad?”


Thomas Elson’s stories appear in numerous venues, including Blink-Ink, Ellipsis, Better Than Starbucks, Bull, Cabinet of Heed, Flash Frontier, Ginosko, Short Édition, North Dakota Quarterly, Litro, Journal of Expressive Writing, Dead Mule School, Selkie, New Ulster, Lampeter, and Adelaide. He divides his time between Northern California and Western Kansas.


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