Despite the fact that flash fiction is under 1,000 words, flash fiction must have a beginning, middle, and an end. In flash fiction, the beginning can be a simple premise, the middle can be a central problem or conflict, and the ending works best when it’s a punchline. In this case, there is no punchline. This story just ends, intentionally ambiguous and unresolved, and that’s fine too.

Book of Secrets

On his tenth birthday, Liam reached a milestone in his family’s chosen faith. That Sunday, he and the other 5th grade boys and girls sat in the pews at the front of the congregation and ascended to the pulpit, one by one, as the pastor called out their names.

“Blessed are you, Liam Smith, may the Lord guide you and keep you.”

With his hand extended, Liam received the blessed sacrament. He placed it in his mouth, where it dissolved instantly. Liam turned around and took his place at the front with the rest of the children facing the congregation, where he spotted his mom and dad. It occurred to Liam that the wafer had tasted a little sweet, but it was otherwise unremarkable.

Following church services, Liam and his family lunched at a popular cafeteria. Sunlight spilled into the restaurant hall from the arched windows that flanked the center aisle.

“I’m so proud of you,” his mother said, and she handed him a gift. Liam tore open the blue paper and beheld the Book of Secrets.

“The Book of Secrets,” his mother explained, “was written 1,000 years ago. It has been passed along and translated from generation to generation. It has stood against historical scrutiny, and we believed it to be true. Inside, you’ll find all the stories you’ve learned in church and many more.”

In the car, the book felt heavy in Liam’s lap. He thumbed his name, embossed in gold on the cover. He turned to the book of Wisdom, a chapter filled with parables for living a good life. After a moment, he placed the tassel back inside the book and closed it.

“Mom,” he began, “everything in the book of Wisdom says, ‘woman,’ or ‘all women’ or she,’ or her.’ It doesn’t say anything about boys in this book.”

“Oh.” His mother said. “When The Book of Secrets was devined, the world was just women. That’s until God created man to join her. Just take all the teachings and apply them to yourself as if it said, ‘he.’”

Liam met his dad’s eyes in the rearview.

“But it doesn’t make sense that when I do that, ” Liam said.

“Don’t be silly, ” said his mother, “everything applies to you just the same.”

Liam left the Book of Secrets closed on his lap and looked out the car window at the miles of dense forest along the road.

Categories: Flash Fiction

Diana

Hi there. I'm a writer and reserve military officer with a day job. I write fiction, professional essays on military topics, and wax philosophical about books and movies. I live in Florida with my husband, two kids, and two cats.

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