Timeline: FlashBack’s Ninth Season

Timeline: FlashBack’s Ninth Season

We’ll be back in the new year with more fantastic historical flash, prose poetry and hybrid work, but in the meantime, here is a review of all the pieces we’ve published this season, in chronological order.  And, as always, you can find our entire back-catalogue listed on our Timeline.

The end of season nine also marks the end of our third year of publication.  Thank you to all our authors, readers, and everyone who has sent us work over the past three years.

We’ll resume publishing in January and our next submission window opens in early spring, but in the meantime, we hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.

Season IX

I am all stone, the monolith giving way to a slight slope below my navel. For a moment it seems as if a dark river has appeared between my thighs, but it’s your long, matted hair that sweeps on my midriff while you rough the remaining panel, a soft sun on your muscled back.

We start with wood. Oak’s traditional for its strength and durability, like ship’s timbers. The men hammer in the nails when the oak’s young. After that it’s up to us. They’re too squeamish and the smell upsets them.

It’s only when Ma and Pa wake me that I realise the cries weren’t in my dreams. I’m told to get dressed quickly. Truth be told there’s not much to put on – a shirt and the only pair of breeches that I own. I dress and sit on my bed, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and watching the cruisie lamp throwing its flickering light against the stone walls.

Cross to shoulder, you bear the burden, sleeves covered in white fragments. A single herring remains. It trembles, glinting silver, then gold in the Easter Morning light. The river beckons.

Earlier, a row of penitent fish hung on the cross above your head. Eyes to heaven, their forked tails rigid in death. The crowd shouted and swung sticks: knocking scales, flesh from bone.

ma dont sit sit with the baby no more not since pa caught her starin barebreasted at the lantern light found his boy beneath the feather tick pale and limp as a stillborn pig […]

  • 1942:Windows‘ by Ranjabali Chaudhuri

I love shop windows. Their colours, jewels, and mannequins sing the dulcet promise of possibility. They let me be anyone. Superimposed upon the clothes on display, my reflection can be a soldier in a red and gold jacket, a doctor in a white coat with deep pockets or even a gentleman in a gray suit, a red silk scarf and a cream hat. They take my imagination to places I am not allowed to enter. I wish they were the only windows I had to clean.

I was cupping water in my hand, letting it slip over my daughter’s shoulders as she sat in the bath, when she turned to face me.

“Remember,” she said, “when I found the baby birds?”

  • 22 November 1963:November‘ by Sarah Freligh

The president himself has called us soft, urges us to exercise. He hikes fifty miles on weekends, waving to photographers, lugging the bad back he shattered in the same war that wounded our fathers.

Jessie would not go.

They told her that she had to move. The mountain, y mynydd, was sliding ever closer: inching and scuttling shingle and stone, until one day it would subside. It was for her own good, they said. Her safety.

  • Present day, informed by first century AD:Artifacts‘ by Veronica Montes

The archaeologist, I’ve noticed, cycles through the same two hundred or so photographs and stories. Tonight she will post a beaded dress from the reign of King Khufu, but this afternoon she has shared the ivory hair comb again.

Detail from a Carolingian ms. (Clm 14456 fol. 71r) of St. Emmeram Abbey, 9th century. The two circular diagrams show the division of the day and of the week. From the Bavarian State Library, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.