Monday, October 23, 2017

The News Anchor Dreams (a short story)

My flash fiction piece "11-6" was just published by Heartwood Literary Magazine at the Low-Residency MFA at West Virginia Wesleyan College. I feel like I've written 4 or 5 pieces that all spin out of visiting the Big Bang Theory set, and you can't really tell it from the piece, but I think this is one of them. It's definitely about moving places with only a modicum of confidence (and slightly more divine faith, but not much) and having your life revolve around your job. 

Here's how it starts.

11-6

11-6
FICTION BY MATTHUE ROTH

The news anchor dreams there is a fire, a very bad fire. The only thing that can stop it is water. Everyone is waiting until the fire reaches the ocean. Until it does, the only thing to be done is to report on it. He reads a list of names, of people and businesses and towns affected by the fire. All the names are foreign. He does his best to pronounce each one correctly, short of putting on an accent, which doesn’t test well with the target demographics and makes him feel insincere.
He reads names. He tries to give gravity to each, knowing that among his audience are people with relatives there, people on vacation from there, people whom he is telling that their families are dead. He can’t linger long, though. There are more people waiting to hear the name of the next town to be incinerated, if it is theirs. He pauses before the next name. It is his own language, his own town—the place where he lives now. He lives two blocks away from the TV studio. He can make it to bed fast after the 11:00 news, and then he can be there bright and early for the morning news at six. It doesn’t feel like it’s burning. This must be some weird quirk of live TV, the way it’s filmed, like the five-second delay in case anybody curses.
But they are. They’re burning, and then everyone is dead.

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