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Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.
The one called Aiden looked back at the door and the setting sun. “You sure about this?”
The one called Mason beckoned him. “Come on. We’re almost there.”
The boy hiked up the backpack on his shoulder and followed her deeper into the my crumbling foundry, deeper into its cold, dead heart.
She led him down the hall and across the doors that had fallen off their hinges, past the rusted pumps, over the fallen pipes, and toward my pool.
My pool had been perfect once, a huge concrete vat set in the floor that for sixty years had bubbled with water and foam and chemicals. But that had ended forty-two years ago, and now it was dry and empty. The pool could only wait for the wind to dance through the empty window frames and nuzzle the dust until it would play again, spinning dead leaves in little cyclones across its bottom.
Aiden set down his backpack with a clang. Paint cans. Vandals, coming to wreck up my foundry. High above them, atop a rusted pipe, I began to sing, deep and low, coaxing out the rustworms, and they emerged and sang with me, weaving through the rust and building toward the final crescendo.
“Do you hear something?” Aiden said.
“Just the wind.” Mason hung over the edge of the pool, then dropped down into it. “Pass me that broom.”
The boy opened the backpack and took out a push-broom head, then threaded it onto a short stick. He passed it down to her. In the backpack, there was metal, the paint cans. They were sweeping up before they painted, so the paint would stick.
I hummed faster, working the rustworms into the other end of a pipe large enough for someone to crawl through. It would fall on them, or at least scare them, and that would make them stop, make them run away and leave and forget like the others. People like them only caused hurt.
Aiden sat on the edge of the pool and watched her push the leaves and twigs into the drain, and when she asked for the bag he dropped it down.
She started painting, defacing my beautiful bubbling pool.
I hummed faster, louder, stronger, and the rust flakes fell like autumn leaves. Soon, it had to be soon, before she did more damage.
“Oh,” Aiden said. “It’s a man. Who is he?”
“He’s the guy who got the foundry closed. And no one even knows about it any more.”
I watched her work, watched her closely. Her painting was like dancing, back and forth, blasting browns and blues and pinks from her fingertips like spells from the hands of an enchantress. The fumes billowed in the pool, and she began to cough.
“You okay?” Aiden said.
“Yeah. Almost done.” A few more sprays and she climbed out. Aiden offered her his hand, and she took it for a moment too long, and they dropped their hands and stuffed them in their pockets and stood apart.
I couldn’t see it. I whispered to the wind and it came softly through the windows and swept the fumes away.
The painting was of—of me!
“Glenn Brown, 1952–1978. Love lives on,” Aiden read. “So who was he?”
Mason took a crumpled paper from her pocket. “Here’s the photo. Good likeness, huh?” She snapped a few pictures of the pool, of me. “Everyone needs to hear about this guy. The first black guy who ever lived in our town.”
“Why? What happened to him?”
“They hung him, right here where he worked. For dating a white woman.”
“Yeah. Cops said it was suicide. But it was impossible, the way the rope was tied off and how he was hung up. Plus he was real beat up.”
“Damn. But, love lives on. I like that.”
They knew about me, they were going to tell everyone what happened. These kids, they—the rust! The worms had almost played through. I cut them off but the pipe was already breaking loose.
I sang, I screamed to the wind, and the wind crashed through the windows and caught the falling pipe and spun it, spun it, almost enough—it smashed down between them, knocking the boy onto his back.
The girl climbed over the pipe. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Let’s get out of here.”
“Come on.” She kept his hand in hers this time, held it, and pulled him forward.
And then the wind, it came again, and it carried me away.