I’m no expert on flash fiction, and I certainly never thought I’d ‘review’ a story only 200 words long, but this story really got to me. Not only is it like a prose Haiku – perfect and complete in a tiny package – it also bears a message of love that transcends form. Decide for yourselves:
No Costume Needed
by Joan Childs
Like you, I was born of a dying star. Like you, I was once made of star stuff. Seven billion billion billion atoms of it.
Now I exist in the space between the stars. I see you without my eyes. I touch you without my hands. I love you without my heart.
Except for tonight. All Hallows’ Eve. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium, along with a smattering of other stuff: they all bind to my soul for one night and I walk with you once again. I am part of the cosmos, but just for tonight, I am part of the cosmopolitan.
I have forgotten the formula of how to be flesh, so please bear with me. I have forgotten how to layer skin over muscle. I may have gotten it inside out. I have forgotten the placement of organs and limbs, the texture of hair. I will do my best.
Do not be afraid.
You laugh with your friends.”Trick or Treat!” But I know you feel me near. You look around and beneath your laugh you long for affection, not confections.
You see me. My eyelids are missing, I think, but I can see you. My hand is a few fingers short, but I can touch you. My bloody heart is bulging through my chest, but I love you.
You hold out your hand. With a child’s innocence you see the soul through the stuff of stars.
“Hello Grandpa. I’ve missed you.”
* * *
No Costume Required takes the tired old themes of zombies and All Hallows, and turns them inside out. Or perhaps returns them to their original intent. But purpose is not the point; love and longing are. This story literally made me cry.
The author is Joan Childs and the venue is Indies Unlimited.