Gullfoss by Desmond Talkington
Poems, Songs, Stories

Flash Fiction: “Gullfoss”

In an effort to share more of my work with the world, and so gain the trust and understanding of readers before publishing my novel next year, I have decided to publish my flash fiction story, Gullfoss, right here on the Red Sweater Press website. This story received an honorable mention in the Alaska Writer’s Guild’s 2019 fiction contest, as well as some positive feedback after submission to The Drum Literary Magazine.

Please enjoy 🙂

Gullfoss

Arliss stood on a rocky precipice above the abyss, the gelid white falls roaring beside him. He took a deep breath and coughed, the frigid air irritating his lungs. The weather was unseasonably cold – barely above freezing, in mid-September – and in direct correlation, he believed, to the disastrous event of that afternoon.

Reykjavik, he recalled – difficult to say, but “exotically romantic,” his sister had said. The holiday had been her suggestion, a much needed “ice breaker,” she said, for his stagnant relationship. Arliss and Kimmy had been together four and a half years, the last three months of which had been particularly dull. In June she had unkindly explained to him what a drain he had been on her life and that, if he had any mind to marry her, he ought to propose right then and there. They were at a cocktail party in London, hosted by Kimmy’s employer.

“Alright then,” he had said, and walked out of the room.

It was dark now – the air colder and the thundering waterfall, Arliss imagined, quieter. Perhaps he had simply become accustomed to its voice, he reasoned.

Arliss took another deep breath and looked up at the stars. He was reminded of the diamond in his coat pocket, removed it, and studied it against the sky.

The morning after the party, Kimmy had begged Arliss not to leave her, saying she had been wrong to give him an ultimatum. But the apology did not repair the relationship, and the couple grew distant as the weeks wore on.

When Arliss announced that he had purchased tickets to Iceland, Kimmy responded with angry practicalities:

“How could you be so stupid, Arliss, we could’ve used that money!”

“I can’t just leave, Arliss, what about my job?

But, gradually, the luxury of such a trip began to appeal to Kimmy, and her affection for Arliss soared as the day drew near.

Beside the waterfall, Arliss slipped and fell on his bottom, barely avoiding a long drop to the rocky pool below. His body had grown weary from standing, and he found himself grateful for the seat.

He looked at the diamond once more, then threw it into the gulf.

When the moment had come, with Kimmy looking out over the falls, the sun setting on her blonde hair, a powerful morbidity came over Arliss. He put a hand on Kimmy’s shoulder, gaining her attention, and smiled. She smiled back. And then he pushed her.

She was too shocked, he imagined, to have screamed, and fell silently into the deep, narrow canyon.

The wind on the cliffs picked up and Arliss shuddered. He stood, blew on his hands and shook them for warmth. Facing the cascading reality of his crime, he closed his eyes, and let the ground give way beneath him. Perhaps he did want to be with her, after all.

 

Copyright © 2019 by Cait Buxbaum. All rights reserved.

 

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