Wednesday, July 28, 2021

New Short Fiction by Dale Stromberg


I don't exist—I happen.

 A daydreamer’s story: “I told people he was my lover. I think he worked in a sexy profession. An architect or airline pilot or something. He was tall and Iranian, kept fit, barely spoke, and always had two-day stubble. His only English was, ‘I felt like seeing your face.’ I’d be out on the veranda, smoking a cigarette. Wondering if maybe today was the end of the world. He’d show up at my apartment without warning. And smile: ‘I felt like seeing your face.’ We’d take a bath together, at perfect rest.”

 An infantryman’s story: “They sent us up the wrong hill. They filled our guns with the wrong ammunition. They put us under the wrong general. Our boats were pointed in one wrong direction and our planes in another wrong direction. Our flag was the wrong color, blowing the wrong way. We attacked the wrong enemy from the wrong position. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You never hear the one that hits you. I leaked, I bubbled, I groaned, I faded. My country… my country… my country wasted me.”

 An investigator’s story: “We couldn’t find a next-of-kin. The medical examiner ruled it a cerebral infarction. Her landlord called her a model tenant. The neighbors on her floor were less charitable: ‘dirty whore,’ ‘raunchy bitch,’ ‘needed a bath.’ Still, the case looked commonplace until we searched the house. Found them at the back of the bedroom closet. The desiccated remains, wrapped in plastic, of four stillborn babies. Her diary made no mention of any children. Studied the whole thing, never found a clue. It was just a bleak record of loneliness.”

- © Dale Stromberg 2021

Dale Stromberg grew up not far from Sacramento before moving to Tokyo, where he had a brief music career. Now he lives near Kuala Lumpur and makes ends meet as an editor and translator. His work has been published here and there.

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