Silent City

Flash Fiction by Foster Trecost

It was Tuesday. Cardboard boxes furnished our apartment and I thought the boxes looked better than the things inside, so I left. “I’m going for a walk,” I said. I don’t know what she said.                                      

The sidewalk was crowded, but not with people. We were all trees dressed in Tuesday clothes, Tuesday coats, and Tuesday hats. I felt alone, like the only boy in the city, except I wasn’t a boy. I was a tree. I ducked in a store to buy some gum. The clerk said how much I owed, and I checked the register to make sure I understood. I paid and put the change in my pocket.

Dusk became dark and traffic jammed the streets. Headlights shot the cars in front and I imagined the beams were a single beam, like long light-skewers piercing through a car-kebab. I chewed gum and popped it rapid-fire, and wondered how it felt to be annoyed by sound.

At an intersection, I crossed with the others when the light changed. I felt like a grape and was happy to be with a bunch of grapes. Grapes are much better than trees.

I stopped to watch a man dressed as Santa. He rang a bell and I wondered if the sound helped him collect more money. I thought the sound might be annoying, like my gum. Still, I gave him the change from my pocket. A few steps later I came across a homeless man holding a cup and wished I’d waited.

A sign advertised the best Chinese food in the city, so I decided to see for myself. I decided the sign lied. I paid and went back to the homeless man and dropped my change in his cup. He said something, but his beard was thick and I couldn’t see the words.

Back at my building, she greeted me at the door and asked how I found the city. “Loud,” I joked. She laughed at my sarcasm.

“Does the bell help?” I watched her mouth. Reading lips was easy; minds were a bit more difficult.

“Bell?”

“A guy dressed like Santa was ringing a bell. Does the bell make a difference?”

“You give him anything?”

I said I did, and she said there’s my answer.

I asked if she wanted some tea. “Sounds good,” she said, and I asked if she was trying to be funny. We both laughed. When I handed over her mug, we blew ripples in the surface.

“I felt like a grape,” I said.

“When?”

“When I crossed the street.”

She smiled because she knew that was good. The tea was hot and we blew more ripples.


Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, and sometimes very short. Recent work has appeared in Peacock Journal, New World Writing, and Blue Fifth Review. He lives in New Orleans.

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