The Night Guide

“Is she a furrier? “The ethno-entomologist whispered to me. We listened to an Australian’s plan for stemming the opossum population through the fashion industry. I stifled laughter and enjoyed this collusion with the stranger. I wondered if I could never be a Buddhist. Compassion seems so lonely and gossip an easy way in. The entomologist was clumsy. I had never met anyone as clumsy. Silverware careened across the table. I reached up and stopped glasses that tipped in her wake as she motioned me to come with her. The weak flashlight seemed not to illuminate the thick solidity of the night. At one point I wondered if my eyes were actually open. She told me to watch out for the poisonous toads, coveted by the CIA and used in interrogations. About tiny mushrooms whose spores spread an infection that drove you to climb higher and higher till you fell with a destroyed brain. She walked me quickly past tree possums that looked at us with eyes sparkling from the light. How in the world could anyone want to kill them? I had to move quickly to not lose her, past trees of sleeping butterflies and the Jesus Christ lizards, (I thought it was their posture that named them, feet together and arms spread out on a twig but later she pointed to them as they walked across water. But isn’t everything overdetermined? (It couldn’t be an accident that they slept like that). I barely saw each bend in the path, she hurtled forward with a faith I seemed to lack, and her humming surrounded me, mixed with laughter, snatches of song and tall tales that I am sure were true. “You’d cut off a limb if it bit you”, she said, pointing to the large bullet-headed ants, “people do.” I listened carefully in the darkness and kept my hands by my sides.

Flash Fiction by Melanie Dubose

Melanie DuBose advocates for equity in arts education and teaches filmmaking to teenagers in East LA. She is a Los Angeles Arts Activate Fellow and a graduate of the UCLA film school. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Nixes Mate Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Red Flag Poetry Express, antinarrative journal, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, Ekphrastic Review, and Contemporary Haibun.