Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Abyss by Lois Hibbert

“The Earth is God’s pinball machine and each quake, tidal wave, flash flood and volcanic eruption is the result of a TILT that occurs when God, cheating, tries to win free games.”

― Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Caribbean Sunset

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Wednesday, October 07, 1998


After work today I drove over to the health club and had a good, tough workout. It was a gorgeous day and I felt like staying outside for awhile so I drove across Sunnyvale to Lake Ray Hubbard and a little park at the end of Barnes Bridge road. This is the place with the two wooden crosses, I wrote an entry about it back in June.

The two crosses are still there. I was glad to see that someone had repaired Jason Farmer’s cross. From the look of how it was done, it might be the same people working on the other cross.

Michelle Lemay Self’s cross is still kept up with a little plot of plastic flowers. The white wood is covered with messages written in what looks like black magic marker.

Wife, Mother, Daughter
Sister Beloved

We Don't know you
but visit all the time.

There is a little line drawn about eighteen inches up from the ground. It is labeled, “Austin’s height when She left him.”

At about three feet there is another line. “Austin’s height, 7/9/98, 2 1/2 years old.”

Love U
Your Husband
Chris Self

Nearby, in crude but legible hand,

I love you
Austin 7/19/98

Along one side was a longer, more ominous message. I present it here as I copied it down, I don’t think it’s my place to make any comment.

For those of U that come
and see this 1 and Lonely cross
I hope u all have took the time
and understand are pain & are loss.
This 1 man I'd Love too c out
here 1 sunny summer day.
So I can end his sorry LIFE,
AND then be on my happy
way to go & tell my loving wife that
he has finally paid.
u know who u are
I'm coming soon.

The park is as poorly-developed as always. Some run down playground equipment and an arc of shoddy grass, a bit of woods, along the shore of the lake. I walked on down a path away from the parking lot.

All the lakes in North Texas threatened to dry up with this summer’s drought. The recent deluge has helped, but the lake is still down. Instead of these little cliffs of mud-rock along the shore, there is a little stretch of sand, which used to be lake bottom. I sat along this poor man’s beach and watched the gold sunset sky, the hazy distant opposite shore with its expensive homes and developments. A lone sailboat fought against the waves, a flock of white seabirds dove for fish.

The wind was blowing stoutly and that was enough to build waves from across the big lake. They came rolling in, miniature breakers. With a bit of imagination it was like being at the ocean. It even smelt a little like the sea, mostly because of a mat of drying and rotting seaweed.

I walked on down the curl of the park ’til the stretch of public property ended in a steel barrier and “No Trespassing” signs. Away from the water was a thick grove of trees and a path. I walked back into a little grotto, my legs brushing away last night’s spider webs, nobody had been there all day. I looked up into the trees, still illuminated by the afterglow of the set sun and saw motion. The trees were full of Monarch Butterflies.

It was a beautiful sight. The green and yellow trees, orange sky, red and black flapping wings. The branches were lousy with them, many came fluttering down, disturbed by my approach. They flew in a cloud around me, close enough to reach out and touch.

They must be stopping over on their annual migration. It was an unexpected treat, a special pleasure, to have them decorate this remote speck of shabby forest.

I needed to get home so I walked back to my car. The return drive was slow and fun, I was stuck behind a peloton, maybe thirty riders. A local club was finishing up a ride, trying to get back before dark. I especially liked slowing down on the uphills, watching them all come out of the saddle, black shorts and colorful jerseys, pumping legs and bobbing helmets.

I had worked out hard enough, it had been a long, tough enough day that I was content to sit in the bucket seat and steer, listen to a tape, let them all do the work for once.

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

Abyss by Lois Hibbert

from Flash Fiction Magazine