The Abyss

My entry in this week’s Flash! Friday contest. Your story had to be inspired by the photo below and had to include a puppy in some fashion. The word count max was 160.

I’m overjoyed to announce that I was named the winner this week. This is basically the Holy Grail of the weekly flash fiction contests. Every week there are tons of entries written by some truly marvelous writers. I can’t even articulate how genuinely happy I feel today. I’ve been struggling mightily with self-doubt lately and this felt like a bit of validation. I’m simply thrilled. I must thank the judges this week who had an enormously difficult task in front of them. So thank you very much Catherine Connolly and AJ Walker, both of whom are members of the Poised Pen writers group. Their comment about my story can be found at the end of this post.

caruso_with_phonograph2 Photo owned by LOC

The jukebox desires coins bathed in anguish. My pocket is bulging with those. I feed the nostalgic gal then crawl to the bar.

Intoxicated bones with masks of sorrow lounge on decaying stools, a whimpering pack of discarded puppies pining for their master. Glasses are being fractured by aching hands. Marinated eyes plunge for deserted images floating in amber liquid. We drink memories at The Abyss. We splash our guts with the distilled echo of things that don’t come back.

Words are extinct here. Our mouths are preoccupied with swallowing fraudulent remedies. Our ears tuned solely to the paralyzing songs that tell our story with a folksy twang.

A kid in a pink Oxford is peeling the label off his beer with wounded talons. His first heartbreak, perhaps. I buy his next round. He nods. I want to tell him to stay afloat, but my coins have bartered a deal: A melody that tilts the bottle. Lyrics that consume shadows.


This story sets its premise out from the title in.  Right from the outset, the reader descends into the abyss the characters dwell within whilst they drink memories away.  Original premise aside, the writer’s use of language is accomplished.  Pockets “bulging” with coins bathed in anguish cause the protagonist to “crawl” to the bar, emphasising the sense of psychological weight from the first paragraph.  The sense of despair and hopelessness continues via the “bones” displaying their “masks” only, devoid of real humanity, as we see what the bar occupants have been reduced to.  Seemingly, the distilled memories they imbibe will not be the only things incapable of a return.  Here, “echo” refers cleverly not only to the distilled products being served but the inference in respect of the drinkers themselves.  There is a sense of struggle in the attempt to “stay afloat”, however hopeless it may ultimately prove.  Finally, we reach the haunting conclusion and its “shadows”, with the reference to consumption highlighting the extent to which those who drink at the Abyss are eaten away, slowly but surely, by their singular desire.  Beautifully done, Chris!


2 thoughts on “The Abyss

  1. Well, once again, you’ve managed to wow with words. This is a most deserved win for you. Congratulations again! This is truly flawless flash and every word here well chosen and perfectly placed. Fantastic, Chris!

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