Saturday 15 June 2024

'She is the Ball in the Pinball Machine' by Nora Nadjarian

Her husband tells her You are this, but not that and sometimes even Are you trying to be something else, instead of this? in monophonic replays. She scream-thinks This is what I am now, take it or leave it. It’s her crazy-life as opposed to her goody-goody-life where she’s ironing crinkles forever. Neon lights blink. Her lover presses the right button and she’s propelled and enters that flashing circuit until he pushes the left button and the flipper flicks her like the escence in effervescence, the walls zing, her whole body tingles and for a nano-second she rolls in and out of the mini question-mark of doubt: yes, should I, yes? Another flipper catches her and she’s right in there, in the giggly tunnel of the good things, eye-popping admiration, tight-fitting love, fast-spinning lust, all of the above, and ping! She’s going places, bouncing from wall to floor, red turns green, pink zaps yellow, and she’s laughing out loud, because I’m this and not that, for once. There are ill-wishers watching her, they want to know, almost ask What’s a housewife doing in this sleazy place and who’s that bloke young enough to be – and she rushes past their gossip bubbles Let them, let them gobble up their brain-cells. A slingshot accelerates her course and she never wants to walk a straight line, ever again, because This is what I am when I’m with him, all this and more. The next day is a real-life, straight-face day, and finally Is this some kind of a joke? asks her husband in his Yours Hatefully signature voice and she says No and it’s the first time she’s hurled a No at him and she can see it going round and round inside his brain until it hits the target.

Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer from Cyprus. Her work was included in Europa 28 (Comma Press, 2020) and the National Flash Fiction Day anthologies (2020 and 2023). Her short fiction has also appeared, among others, in Sand Journal, FRiGG, Milk Candy Review, Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn and chosen for Wigleaf‘s Top 50 Very Short Fictions of 2022 (selected by Kathy Fish). In recent years she has run successful workshops for the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol.

Her recently published collection of poetry Iktsuarpok is available from Broken Sleep Books.

'She is the Ball in the Pinball Machine' was longlisted for the Reflex Fiction Winter 2021 flash fiction competition, and was published in In Defense of Pseudoscience: the Reflex Fiction Volume 5 print anthology, published in summer 2022.

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