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A Collection of 500 Words of Friction

Flash Fiction Contest runner-up

Matt Chinworth

Say what you say, but your collection of postcards, so many postcards sorted into a mountain of shoeboxes labeled “Skyscrapers,” “National Parks,” “Jack-a-lopes,” and more and more and more, enough to fill three closets, and my great aunt’s collection of china teapots, with her favorite being the black one with white feet that looks like a short-hair tuxedo cat with a curved tail, and my neighbor’s beer can collection that takes up two entire walls in his basement man-cave while his wife’s collection of pencil sharpeners barely covers the coffee table in front of their widescreen TV and speaking of TVs, I heard that your first wife’s third husband collected TVs and radios and 8-track players, and when she caught him cheating on her with their son’s vice-principal—kinda ironic really, get it? vice, vice principal, cheaters having vice? anyway—she took their son’s baseball bat and smashed all his TVs and radios, but left the 8-tracks alone and then she ran off with her son’s baseball coach who not-so-surprisingly collected baseball cards, but not just any baseball cards, he only collected baseball cards from Japan and Cuba and Florida, that coincidentally all those collections we just talked about and all the collections you might know about and all the collections anyone might care to list or—for that matter, collect—that my collection, my totally unique and dare-I-say-never-to-be-duplicated collection, leads me to boast and embrace the Deadly Sin of Pride because I happen to collect the clothes and especially the footwear of people who have been struck by lightning and lived to tell their tales and I am here to tell you that Florida, the Sunshine State, that besides oranges and Mickey Mouse and alligators, that Florida has more lightning strikes than any other state, and that I vacation there every year to collect the clothes of lightning-strike survivors, but certainly not lightning-strike victims because that would be gruesome, and there is a family that lives outside Tallahassee that has three brothers, two sisters, a grandfather, and a dog that have all been struck by lightning on separate—yes, I said separate—occasions, that some people say are very lucky, but whenever I visit them to pick up another set of clothes I always point out to them that being struck by lightning in the first place is not a very lucky thing and the mom of the family just giggles and laughs and then hee-haws and snorts “what are you gonna do?” and then she hands over the charred and sometimes blood-splattered clothing—usually nose bleeds in case you were wondering—and then thanks me for the Christmas card that I send out every Black Friday after Thanksgiving and I enclose a photo of my lightning clothes collection wall with all the torn and tattered shirts, frayed pants, scorched belts, and blasted sneakers and boots. Lightning is just God’s friction, you know.

For more from the inaugural TTV and Nimrod International Journal Flash Fiction Contest, click here.

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