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My latest in the Flash! Friday weekly flash fiction contest wherein we supply 210 words max in response to the above photo prompt and the prompt to use a “gladiator” character. My entry below:

Father’s baritone voice was like any other wave in the sound ocean. It washed up on my ears next to the air vent, the ladybug prancing on the window’s ledge and the melting ice in the glass he’d left earlier.

Black sheets fanned over the window and scrunched up under the door seal. Sunlight would dance on my corneas with steel-toed boots.

I sat in the corner with one of father’s yellow legal pads. He wanted me to draw the grease-haired kid that smelled like Marlboro’s and syrup. He had saucer eyes that for some reason often settled on the back of my neck in pre-calculus.

Father wanted me to bloody the greasy-haired kid. Blood was sticky like syrup, but not as sweet.

His voice from the shadows, over my shoulder, insisted. The ladybug changed directions. The ice melted.

One time when I was younger, mother brought home a cat with a tongue that scratched my skin. It stayed behind the couch, licking itself and sleeping. That seemed nice.

Father threw it away.

I finished my picture. Father dragged me by the arm to the backyard. Sunlight danced. Birds, sewer flows, BBQ chicken, humidity, overwhelming…overwhelming.

He wrapped my knuckles in tape with shards of glass poking through.

“Ready, gladiator?”

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