Premiering a new piece of visceral flash fiction by Hobie Anthony. It'll stick with ya.
The snow had finally melted and warm rain came down to swell the river, flooding the countryside. I was glad to get out of the house into the back yard and walk on the soppy ground. I took trash to the can in the alley and a burrito wrapper fell from the bag. I leaned over for the trash and there it was, the horror and surprise of it; there lay a woman's ring finger still with a man's ruby ring between the knuckle and the bloody stump. The woman's nail was torn and jagged as though it had clawed something rough and hard.
The finger was perfectly preserved by the cold and felt like it was beginning to thaw, how frozen meat will feel mushy on the top but solid towards the frozen, bony center. The ring fell off onto the ground. The ruby was clear and flawless, perfect in a gold setting.
There were no tracks around the site, they had vanished into water. Had the finger been carried there on foot or in a car? I thought back. Maybe I'd heard a car the night before last, while we were arguing over wages missed due to snow-days or sloth. But, maybe that was a wishful memory, implanted to forget some point of truth or fact my wife had pointed out. She was good at that.
I could see her there at the window, doing the dishes from last night, dishes we left to soak when we'd moved into our third beer and I'd opened the whisky; she had dealt the cards for cribbage and we ended up on the floor, her knees were cherry red this morning.
I took the finger and rubbed it between the palms of my hands. The blood thawed and oozed a bit. I wiggled it a bit at the joint, and I kissed the jagged nail. I cleared a hole and pushed the finger deep into the middle of the garbage bag; I held the ring in my pocket, flipping it over and over.
Hobie Anthony writes prose and poetry in Portland, OR. A native of the South, prodigal son to Chicago, and new NorthWesterner, he seeks to understand this America. He can be found or is forthcoming in such journals as The Los Angeles Review, Crate, Prime Mincer, The Other Room, R.kv.r.y., Ampersand, Pank, Prime Number, and Soundzine, among others. He is now focused on putting together a new book.