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‘Ash’ by Alvin Park

— Joyce Chong

I dig the hole as she holds the cigar box where my father rests. Her new ring taps against the redwood.

This week I have little flash fiction story for you about family and complicated relationships, and expectations and reality, the way innate differences can leave us prone to rifts, the ground shaky, ready to split apart. Told in fewer lines and words than it seems, Park opens up a window into the life, past and potential future, of the narrator. As much an exercise in brevity, this story also examines the struggles of coming to terms with the conception of others we keep in our minds, and the selves that are presented to us in truth.

The rifle that felt heavy, clumsy in my hands, eventually relinquished from me, his head shaking, but my relief, my shaking fingers, the smoke unfolding from the barrel.

Blood ties, and the relationship between a father and child only further complicates these discrepancies. How do we come to terms with simultaneously loving and hating, respecting and resenting someone that is a part of who we are? There is something impossible about encompassing all of these contradictions, even with all the synonymous things that muddy the water. There is a glimpse of the past, crisp as the cold, the smell of gunpowder in the air, and there is the present: the quiet of the water, the wide open woods. But the note that we are left on is looking forward, warm and comforting; it’s something like light.

L’Éphémère Review