Laurette Folk is this week’s special featured author for our prestigious Daily Flash series; Ms. Folk’s new anthology collection, TOTEM BEASTS, is forthcoming from Big Table press this spring.
The children were already restless, and she, in her new dress with a curious stain on the collar, was slightly intimidated by having twenty children at her disposal and becoming all the more rowdy by the minute. Being a seasoned veteran of teaching, she knew she could pull something from the bag of tricks that comes with some fifteen years in the profession. She decided on the game of telephone, and she lined up the children —these children with mussed up hair, noses that always needed wiping—and handed the first child the message realizing then that of course the child couldn’t read, so she whispered it into his ear, this ridiculously banal message (what should the message be, she panicked, just a minute before) and the child turned to the next and so on and so forth.
As the message passed from child to child, she went to close the door to the hallway, when suddenly her ex-boyfriend passed through the portal. X had, in one fell swoop, dismissed the children playing telephone, commenting something about her having her hands full, then passed through the exterior walls as smoke passes through a screen.
She tried her best to dismiss him as he did her, twenty years before, her heart beating against the impenetrable hardness of her ribs, white lights strung up on trees just outside her apartment, his hair pulled back to show his clean face, clear and certain.
But she couldn’t dismiss him, not then, not now. Just the night before, X shared a bed with her and her husband, and she, eagerly, with heart brimming, opened herself to him and he entered her. It was her husband who watched from over her shoulder, pitying her, knowing her rampant desire to be loved and the heartache she was to feel by this heartless engagement. X withdrew prematurely, put on his clothes, packed up his things, and went back to the home he shared with his wife and kids.
So here he was now, casually walking through her life again, but she went about doing her job nonetheless, keeping the children in line, peering up at the clock—9:20—class would be soon dismissed for recess, and she could go back to picking up the pieces, the colored construction paper, the blocks, Legos, tidy up (she was always, always tidying up), recollect herself.
The message came down to the last child and she asked her to repeat it, and the black-eyed child said one word: dauphin. The sentence, the original banal message (whatever it was) was now condensed to this, and she asked the children what it meant and hands went up. After everyone had filed out the door, and she was alone, she repeated it to herself—dauphin, dauphin— satisfied this mystery now had a name.
Laurette Folk ‘s fiction, essays, and poems have been published in upstreet, Literary Mama, Boston Globe Magazine, Talking Writing, Narrative Northeast, So to Speak among others. Her novel, A Portal to Vibrancy, was published by Big Table; Totem Beasts, her collection of poetry and flash fiction, is forthcoming from Big Table in 2017. Ms. Folk is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing program and editor of The Compassion Anthology.
P.S. Readers who enjoyed Laurette’s writing and want a visual accompaniment should look into the work of artist, Remedios Varo.