While I don’t believe my flash fiction is garbage and I’m actually quite proud of it, the title of my Flash fiction short story is Garbage. The story follows Jane, a garbage truck driver. She realizes how lonely she is, and she decides to remedy that by any means possible. It is cute and whimsical, but it was unbelievably fun to write. Here is the text:
Jane picked up her keys and listened to the truck turn off. She listened to the sound of one boot onto the ground and then the other. She was a listener, mostly to the same sounds every day. She listened to the garbage cascading into the compressor at the back of the truck, every little piece falling one by one, so she could hear glass breaking and bags plopping into the truck with a slight thud, hidden by the blaring beeps. She mostly listened to truck sounds.She held the keys in her grimy hand and tucked them into her pocket. She walked as quickly as she could towards her bus stop, following her usual routine of hunching her shoulders up until they touched her ears as she walked and hiding underneath the hood of her jacket so nobody would talk to her.
She opened the door of her apartment and dropped the keys on the floor. She heard their clang against the linoleum tile, echoing through the empty apartment. She looked out her window onto the bland city outside. She scoffed at the empty apartment across the street and rolled her eyes. She sneered at the empty side of the closet she now had freedom to fill with whatever she wanted but chose to keep empty, the empty drawers that used to hold clothes and now only held half finished love letters with an empty signature at the end. She hated the view of the empty couch, the empty table, and the empty look in her eyes when she looked at what her life was like alone.
The only thing she ever thought was full was the back of her truck, filled to the brim with garbage. She felt like she could relate to the back of the truck. She imagined herself sitting there, garbage raining on her as the truck whirred and beeped and sped away. She imagined moldy food, broken glass, and empty milk jugs that people didn’t know were recyclable, falling on her face. She shuddered and tried to ignore the image of styrofoam bits and dirty napkins stuck to her hair, probably with gum someone else chewed or something that went rotten a long time ago. However, as empty as she was, she was a problem solver.
She stepped into her truck the next morning and she didn’t follow her normal route. She sped across the city, knocking over garbage cans and parking meters. She turned, corner after corner, faster than a garbage truck is made to go. She didn’t know where she was going, but she knew she had to get there fast. She turned into an alleyway, where she slammed on the brakes abruptly and flew forward. She stumbled out of the truck, one boot at a time, and something caught her eye. It was glimmering, golden, like antique jewelry or a discarded candy wrapper. Her eyes filled with tears.
It’s true that Fancy Feast Cat food is an unlikely source of inspiration. That is apparent to everyone, except for Jane. She sprinted around the corner, and ran into a rundown corner store. She grabbed thirteen containers of cat food and made her way to the cash register. She tapped her foot nervously as she waited for each container to be rung up. She grabbed the cat food and ran. She set off, marching around the city, hoping she would find a cat sitting right in front of her after she turned a corner. Finally, she found a sad, bland looking pet shop halfway between a dismal alleyway and a dumpster. She listened to the bell ring as she entered.
The next day, she opened the door of her apartment and dropped her keys on the floor. A orange cat walked across her feet. It meowed. She liked that sound. The apartment wasn’t empty anymore. She found herself singing something, and smiled. Jane was a listener. These were sounds she could listen to everyday.