American studies

Flash fiction about 2 students on the verge of graduation sharing a perfect moment in time.

Jim Esch
5 min readFeb 20, 2022

This flash fiction began as a sketch I wrote in college. The scene is one I observed myself at a distance. Over the years I would come back and try to work the sketch into a story. It started to get somewhere when I realized I had to pull out of the scene and add a summary paragraph that flashed forward to indicate the rapid pace of life passing. Then I finished it off with a sudden flashback and recognition scene. I suppose it’s a story about the passage of time and those singular moments we keep coming back to —moments of perfection and calm and happiness that end all too fast. If you can recognize the special moments as you’re living them and savor them NOW, you’ll have fewer regrets.

“Something tranquil and good blossoms into the shining orange moments.” Photo by Leroy Evans on Unsplash

Two American college students sit cross-legged on the green lawn in the late afternoon May sun. One in a pink, sleeveless blouse, white shorts — round, tan thighs open to the sky — brunette hair pulled behind the ears, gently falling down the nape of her neck. The other young woman bends her head idly over a spiral notebook, brown pony tail brushing the pages, her left arm perched on a bent leg. Her back is broad and athletic, spanned by a polo shirt — lavender cotton stretched over her knees.

They are grinning lazily. They talk into the calm air, not afraid of its silence. The one in the pink blouse is doing something with her hands, knitting weed stalks or weaving blades of grass. Time slows around them and their backpacks. The light is good.

The sun’s orange hue deepens as it sinks, becoming level with their heads. The light borrows their hair, irradiating their heads like haloed stained glass angels. It intersects the tan arms planted behind them, palms anchored to the ground. It formulates long shadows of their arms and the surrounding trees on the fresh grass. It clarifies the crevices in the brick facade of the library to their right — flares against the windows, each one a shimmering pool of fire. It is as if the landscape and the building are going to be licked by a giant tongue sliding from a smiling mouth.

Across the street stands a Georgian-revival apartment building — four pillars painted in antique beige, the walls red brick painted by the sun…


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