by Brie Radke

Honorable Mention – Flash 405, June 2018: “Nature”



I am one part storm and one part sea. Except when I’m not. Sometimes I am all storm or all sea.

My sea part sloshes with gin and wide emptiness. It’s the part that says no to anything anyone ever offers me. It’s the part of me that has been there the longest.

My storm part isn’t as old. It grew from the waves. It is mean and quiet or mean and loud, depending on its mood. Quiet mean is when the storm screams terrible things at the sea, its echoes rising all the way up to the space between my ears. The sea is used to this. It listens and nods, drawing in its tides like holding breath. It gets purple and still and smaller, smaller, smaller until we all fall asleep for the day.

The sea is only angry when the storm is loud mean. When it tells my mouth to throw its wind and lightning at people or things outside of us. The waves of the sea get big and slam against my insides in protest. I lose my legs, and even my lunch sometimes, when the sea is so upset and the storm is so wild. It’s a broken loop. The storm blows into the world, the trapped sea blows into me. They never learn.

Once in a while, they are both calm. The storm is not blowing, it is quiet quiet. Just like a small fire with embers that remind me of my nature.

When the sea is calm, it sparkles blue gold and feels big full instead of big empty. In those moments, I am one part sea and one part sky.

Sometimes—very, very sometimes—I will be two parts sky, its edge moving up, up, up until there is almost no edge at all. Big full blue gold sea and sky with no edge is my favorite. But sea and storm will not stay calm forever. I will forget sky was ever a part of me when we are purple again.



Judge’s Comments:
In this piece, the balance of the rocky violence and pure calm of nature, of the sea and sky, become a metaphor for human nature and mental instability. This piece churns. It takes a destructive stroke of nature and paints it into something beautiful, even if tragically so. It unveils exquisite anguish, struggle, and beauty.

Originally from Washington State, Brie Radke now lives and works in Pasadena, California. By day she is a director of marketing for an education company, by night she is an aspiring short form writer. Her work has appeared in Chaleur Magazine.

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