Friday Flash: For Appearance’s Sake


Sitting in the car, stuck behind the wheel, the couple stared into seeming nothingness and sighed. Or they would have sighed if they had actually had breath. What they did was the non-corporeal equivalent of breathing. Their spirit-bodies made the appropriate noises, the sucking in and exhaling whoosh sounds one would expect, and their non-corporeal chests heaved up and then down to signal an appropriate level of frustration with their situation. Now to see them, one might think that they were frustrated with the fact that their chests had been crushed from the impacts of various parts of the car, and that was true to a certain extent. One might also, to see their non-corporeal bodies superimposed onto their corporeal ones, deduce that they were frustrated the police or the jaws of life had taken longer than they would have liked to arrive on the scene. The jaws of life had failed to preserve its namesake, life–or in this case their lives (grammatical correctness sometimes smashes its way to the surface, despite its lack of poetry, and yes, the ‘smashing to the surface’ part is a bit fitting but let that go). Anyway, the point is all of those things contributed (but none specifically) to what the ghostly couple behind the wheel of the smashed ’57 Chevy were not-sighing about.

The woman–let’s call her Lucy–turned her face to her boyfriend–let’s call him Ricky–and not-sighed again. They had spent their lives with varying degrees of irresponsibility, intermittently unemployed through lack of interest rather than opportunity, content to live off their family’s good graces, namely Lucy’s father’s generosity.  They had coasted ’round the world looking for a good time, which is perfectly fine, but never actually contributing, which would also be fine if they did no harm, which they did. The world at large would not mourn their passing. But these were also not reasons the dead couple sat so dejectedly in their ruined car.

No, they had finally realized things were infinitely worse than they could have foreseen. Much to their chagrin, they found there was an afterlife, and with the instinctual knowledge of the newly deceased they knew there was no heaven or hell other than what they created for themselves. Knowing that, and knowing that they were stuck for eternity wearing the clothing they died in, they ultimately mourned the fact that they died on their way to a theme party dressed in the fashions of the 1970’s. They were doomed, not only to each others’ company but also bellbottoms and paisley and neon green polyester, for eternity. If there did turn out to be a God, they could not have come up with a more terrible punishment for the shallowest souls on Earth.


*Image courtesy of

**inspired by a photo prompt at the six minute story site on February 26th, 2016.


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