((I call these bursts because I hate the term flash fiction. That makes it sound lucky in some way, what writers do. A burst is something that comes forth, from you, an expression of your thoughts that is anything but luck. I like spontaneous writing. It misses as often as it hits, but the hits are so grand and the misses are just so funny.))
The airplane at eleven o’clock fell from the sky. It was a wounded creature with a claw mark on its underbelly; it should never have taken to the sky in the first place. It screeched, banged, lost bits of itself as it came tumbling down. Shelley saw the fireball but not where it landed.
There were two cars following her. Once was black and large, the other low and gold. The black one turned off when she looked at it. The other stopped and parked, and three people got out.
Shelley pulled out her phone and called home. “Dad, I’ll be late. Something happened on the other side of town.”
“Course it did, all over the tv. Watch out for the sand niggers, they’re getting high this time of night. I’ll be fine though. Next one that comes this way…” More words, then, “Come home safe.”
She loved him; walked faster as she thought about where else she could go, someplace not home; watched a cab pass her. The three people had pretended to go into a corner store but were still following her.
I’m not a cow, she told herself. I’m more than a body or something that is always threatened. But she picked up her pace anyway. At the mid-street bridge, the black car drove past her, going in the opposite direction. The back window was rolled down; a face stared at her, smoking, a young face no wrinkles no smile. Underneath the bridge, she could hear the homeless barking at each other.
He’d be hungry by now, she thought. Sitting on the half-porch, watching the street because if need be, he could put aside all that arthritis and that cancer to go after someone who was doing wrong. Just like he used to. He counted on her for everything but the toilet, and even that soon enough. It was good that mom was gone; she could never have done this, but Shelley… Shelley was special.
“Miss,” called out one of the people following her. She kept walking. Behind her, she could hear the black car turning around; it was big enough that it had to do a three-point turn.
“Miss. Why don’t you stop for a moment.”
“Why don’t you leave me alone?” But she stopped. She was at the midway point of the bridge. Beneath her, the highway was still busy.
The car pulled alongside her, windows up. A man stood before her, leather jacket, nice shoes, top two buttons undone. “How are you this evening?”
“Is this about the airplane?”
He blinked. “What do you mean? We’re with the…”
“What makes you think I have anything to do with it?”
“What? You mean the crash?”
The car doors opened. Two more people climbed out. That made two men and three women total, surrounding her. Someone showed her a badge, as though that would help.
The man was speaking, “Are you all right?” Nothing, she said nothing. “Listen, hard to bring this up here but didn’t want to talk to you at home. We’re here about your father. Some of his colleagues have been talking. One just died, and left a letter apologizing, your dad’s name is all over it…”
“Fine,” said Shelley. “I did it.”
“Did what, Miss?”
“I blew it up. The plane.”
They were silent. The man was looking at the others, then at her again. “I don’t understand what you mean by that.”
“The plane that fell, I did that. You can arrest me.”
“We’re not police.”
Shelley held out her hands. “You should arrest me anyway. Before I get away. Before I go to some other country and change my name, my hair, learn a new language so that no one will ever know who I am. That’s what I can do. I will, too, if you let me go, and then someone will ask you some day why you didn’t do anything about it when you had the chance. How you let me go that easily.”
One of the women was on the phone, sounding confused. “Miss, maybe this is the wrong time to talk, we can meet some other time. Wouldn’t it be better if we took you home now?”
“There’s a bomb in my purse,” she confessed. The people around her moved back, one back into the car, the others down the bridge. They were all on their phones now.
But the man hadn’t moved. He was closer, if anything. He glanced at the purse, then at her. He was about to say something, stopped; was about to take her hand, didn’t. Shelley hated the look in his eyes, those dark eyes, what they were trying to say to her because he didn’t have the words. He didn’t believe her about the bomb, that was clear. The fool didn’t believe it for a minute.