By Abbie Barker
One day, our town was sucked down a hole. We vanished from the surface of the earth, but when we disappeared off the map, we reappeared to each other. We noticed things we never noticed before. About love. About roof lines and door frames and tree shapes. We engaged our eyes and fingers and lips. We soaked up the curves of roads, the contours of clouds, dreamt wild dreams under a brilliant sky. We flung ourselves at hidden crevices, basked in tight spaces. Our gardens bloomed with fresh tastes.
Our town burned brighter here, glowed from within. Still, we wondered about people we knew from other towns. People we had loved and held and kissed. Did life persist outside this hole? Did things go on without us? We tried our phones, but our phones didn’t work. We tried our computers, but they wouldn’t turn on. We threw them into the outer blackness. They disappeared without a sound.
We grew curious, circling the far edges, seeking unfamiliar features—knowledge we didn’t yet know, spectacles we had never seen. But we were alone inside this hole, our perimeter wrapped in an empty black. We exhausted every speck, every dent. Our wonder dimmed, and our town began to fade. The trees and doors. The roads and clouds. The flush of our cheeks, the dyes of our clothes. The pigment waned from the ground and drained from the sky. So, we bore children, raised families. Filled our homes with strollers and swing sets and musical toys. Anything to bring the colors back. Anything to make the brilliance last.
The children are older now. They ask about the darkness beyond. They want to understand the whole wide world we sunk away from. We tell them we are here, and here is enough. But each night, while the youngest sleep, we slip through back doors and steal gazes at a dulling sky. We wonder if the earth above remains exactly how we left it. We hope someone up there still dreams of us.
Abbie Barker lives with her husband and two kids in New Hampshire. Her flash fiction has appeared in Hobart, Cincinnati Review, Monkeybicycle, Pithead Chapel, Atticus Review, and others. She teaches creative writing and is a reader for Fractured Lit. Her work has been longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 and nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Read more at abbiebarker.com.