By: Craig Sorensen
Sometimes they are fatal, sometimes they are life changing. Sometimes they are just a tiny space in time.
Perhaps a space that will be as easily forgotten as it
In my prior job, the corporate offices were in a building
constructed on a former pier that jutted out into the Hudson River. Standing at one end, looking to the other,
could look like a three mile walk.
Naturally a fast walker myself, this could lead to a
One day, I was late for a meeting on the Manhattan end, a
woman stepped around the corner from the endless cube farm down the middle of
the building at just the wrong time.
No one was hurt in the collision, but I did feel awful about
running into her, and she was rightfully pissed at me, but the rapidity that
her expression softened stuck in my head.
It was no more than three seconds in my half-century of life,
an inconsequential moment, certainly not a pivot point in my life. It might well have been forgotten if my
fiction writing mind hadn’t taken firm hold of the idea and begun to turn it
I wrote the formative ideas for the below not too long after
the collision, then set it aside. I came
back to it, changed it, shifted it and grew it.
Could it really work into a story someone might like to read? I don’t know; this was what came
out. I guess this was a flash fiction
exercise in “iceberg writing.” Not
really a story itself, I built it on the idea of these two people, and set out
to illustrate them in tiny fragments of a single moment where they crossed,
showing only their gut reactions to an event, and hinted at a future.
Collision, ©2012 Craig J.
It seems this building has no end. Narrow aisles like ladder steps, the
crossbars occupied by the oblivious staff members of our most recent
A Nevada desert road stretches to infinity.
No terrain. No
rain. My meeting is at the far end,
somewhere up there. Ledger sheets will
lead to decisions that will affect the lives of every face that lies behind the
nameplates along the hall. Nameplates I’ve
never bothered to read. I turn my
wrist. My steps lengthen and pound a
My arms rise in reflex, one hand braces on a wool clad hip,
the other arm steadies a narrow waist.
Full breasts cushion my ribs like airbags deploy on collision.
“Bastard!” I don’t
know the flower in her perfume; her breath is cayenne.
My voice goes up two octaves like a knee to the nuts. “Goddamn!”
Juicy tears dangle from both sides of her chin. Did I do that? I grope for an apology. Her pinpoint pupils are a tiny dot in a field
of cobalt – the cold winter sun through an old bottle. Her porcelain skin gleams against the black
business suit, jacket half way on, her arms are suspended mid frame,
helpless. Helpless. I should ease away from her respectfully.
Astaire and Rogers wait for the music to start, but the
ensuing silence is more like the Novocain on an abscessed tooth. We remain, frozen. Her hand gathers my pink dress shirt into a
tight fist. Her hip presses slightly
forward into the hasty embrace.
I release her. “I’m
really am sor—”
“You should watch where you’re going.” Her words are a whisper. She gently pats my heart. Her pupils widen, suddenly black as a
mourner’s dress. Her nicked, thick
wedding band reflects the endless row of fluorescent tubes above.
“God, I am really sorry, Ms, um . . .” I lift my brow.
She sniffs hard, pulls back, finishes putting on her coat
and wipes both cheeks. “Huddleston. I—me too.
I didn’t mean it—I shouldn’t have called you—a—I mean, that.” She smiles then continues in the opposite
I savor the last hints of her scent and my sudden, rare, ripe
guilt. I look back and watch her walk
away. She doesn’t look back. Her pace looks angry, faster than my pace
when I ran into her.
I turn my popcorn hard on, something I regret almost as much
as asking her name, to twelve O’clock. “Well
I am. A bastard, that is, Ms
Huddleston.” I say too quiet for anyone
to hear. “Usually I am.” I am late for my meeting, but walk slowly, and consider.