“Under Neon Light” by Daniel Harrison

Flash Fiction, Short Stories

In a bar where a flickering cocktail sign lends respite to weary travellers, a man sits and he watches his world burn. His fingers are calloused and lead into taut, scarred forearms. Decades of barbed hooks and fishing lines have made his skin a battlefield rubbed raw by saltwater. He wears heavy rubber boots and a woolen sweater. His thick hair tumbles out from beneath a beanie that once might have been red. An anchor’s voice drones from a staticky TV, mounted high on the wall. The man’s hollow eyes settle on long, panning shots of a coastline: grey seawater, thin waves, the shadows of a harbour. Now the camera zooms in on a column of billowing smoke. Behind that, a boat sinking as flames tear its metal and wooden flesh. The man’s chapped lips and pockmarked cheeks do not move, even as the anchor says that there is a person inside. His mouth is dry, but he is not drinking. Not yet. He wants sober regret, before searching for his reason at the bottom of a glass. Or maybe he will find his reason in the glowing sign above the bar, where men like him have sought answers to the ghosts that chase them inside. But the man knows his reason will soon be at the bottom of the harbour, entombed in the boat where he spent his life. Where his father showed him the world, one he can no longer leave, and passed on his scars for the man to hide, as travellers hide in the neon light of cocktail signs.

DANIEL HARRISON is a young writer and poet from Calgary, Canada. His work has been published in Blank Spaces magazine, and he has self-published a short chapbook of poetry. Daniel is currently enrolled in the English program at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

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