#19: I Call This Flirting, by Sherrie Flick
About the Author
Sherrie Flick’s short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including North American Review, Quick Fiction, Quarter After Eight, and Quarterly West. Her work is anthologized in Sudden Fiction: The Mammoth Anthology of Minuscule Fiction. She has been awarded artist residencies from the Ucross Foundation and Atlantic Center for the Arts and was a Tennessee Williams scholar at Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Co-founder and Director of the Gist Street Reading Series, she lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, the playwright Rick Schweikert. Sherrie’s novel Reconsidering Happiness will be out in fall 2009 with University of Nebraska Press. For more information, see her website at www.sherrieflick.com.
About the Chapbook
"These are sinewy, deeply engaging stories, at once elliptical and satisfying. I Call This Flirting is a marvel: each story is concise as a poem, yet the collection is as seamless and expansive as a novel. Whether describing small-town couples in the Midwest or adventurers in Central Europe, Flick’s stories radiate with lyric intelligence; the stories here are a clear-eyed benediction to love and longing." —Paul Eggers, author of Saviors and The Way Water Moves
"I Call This Flirting is a collection of fever-dreams, haunted by desire, grief, sex, and memory. These are late-night stories, told after midnight, a femme fatale whispering sad and unraveled and lusty tales into your ear. That femme fatale is Sherrie Flick, and she’s a wickedly good writer." —John McNally, author of The Book of Ralph
From the Chapbook
Perhaps the baby owl was a sign as it came down outside your boyhood window—new feathers tousled, shocked and mourning the loss of easy flight. The short hoots over and over, lost as it was on your rooftop in Omaha, Nebraska, 1969.
Or perhaps it was the boy dreams all around you, the five brothers grunting and gurgling earthy dream noises of the hunt, the kill, the escape. Or perhaps it was the moon, the snow, the baby owl, the night. And you—there—magically awake to see this disaster of attempt.
The big man and your mother creaking in their rocky boat of a bed right next to the wall with chinks in the plaster you tried to stop-up with cottonballs lifted from your sisters’ dresser the night before. Perhaps it was the creaking springs, or the moment they stopped and the house took an inhale, deep, long, oblivious to the tiny owl—out there on the roof, a jumble of feathers. Streamlined a few moments before, gliding in the crisp, flat air of the Great Plains, now tousled and hooting, waiting for change.
Touching the frozen panes of glass with your thin fingers—perhaps it was the cold making it real forever—the owl, hooting. You, there, in a rustle of hand-me-down pajamas, sheets, blankets, thoughts—not knowing this moment would never really end.
And when the mother owl in her magnificence swooped down—after hours, after what seemed like days but were hours, the mother coming to rest beside the baby—perhaps that meant hope.