Polka-Dot Shirt

240-word flash fiction piece.

zoomed in, slightly blurry picture of man wearing a loose-fitting black shirt with small white polka dots, focus on torso

He wakes up in a sea of broken glass, dried blood on his hands. Everything smells like whiskey. At the foot of the bed lies the polka-dot shirt, soaked, next to a black bottle cap. A sigh of relief. Made it back to his room. He gets into the shower, lets the cold water pummel his skin. From the open suitcase, he chooses a librarian sweater and too-big black pants.

He starts walking, toward that part of the city from years ago. He doesn’t know what time it is, but the sky is dark. He doesn’t feel the cold wind, just walks, ignoring his piercing headache and those damned memories.

Then, a muffled shout from behind one of the buildings. His head aches, and he rolls his eyes for just a second. He walks through a foggy alleyway to find the source of the noise: a girl much too young and stupid to be in this neighborhood, and a tall man holding her by the arm, whispering in her ear. As whispers become loud scolding, the girl’s arm is squeezed tighter and her eyes widen.

The librarian sweater walks away, hand throbbing and a cut above his right eye. It’s quiet now. A minute later, the girl is running towards him. She throws her arms around him, squeezing tight, and then she is gone. He watches her disappear around the corner and decides that he’ll be okay.

senior at Colgate

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