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๐— ๐˜† ๐—™๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ป

๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜’๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜š๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ

My childhood best friend Gloria always had the inside track. One day she told me a secret that I had to promise never to tell anyone. This is the first time I have shared this privileged information. When watching My Favorite Martian, just as the program was coming to an end, but not quite when the last few commercials came onโ€”the timing had to be perfectโ€”you could pull the plug out from the back of the TV set, and the program would rewind and be available to play again. This was not possible with any other program, just My Favorite Martian, something to do with the celestial outer space radio waves, Gloria said. I tried several times, my parents becoming overly perturbed, but I never managed to capture that elusive recording for a repeat viewing. It never occurred to me that Gloria was mistaken, or teasing. She was always cool as a cucumber. Being six years young, what neither she nor I realized was that her instructions had been ineffective because of the inversion. The planetary inversion, I would later find out. But Gloria persisted, kept trying different combinations, until one day, in-between Brylcreamโ€™s a little dabโ€™ll do you and Topo Gigioโ€™s Eddie, Keesa me goo'night!, she found the right frequency and poof!, disappeared. My mother tried to convince me that Gloriaโ€™s family had unexpectedly moved across the country to Milwaukee. But I knew better. I knew exactly what had happened. And thereafter, every Sunday night when I turned on the black and white to watch My Favorite Martian, Iโ€™d wait for Uncle Martin to raise those two retractable antennae from the back of his head and become invisible. This was my cue to close my eyes wide shut and send a message telepathically to Gloria, knowing she was sure to receive it right then and there. My mother frowned, even whimpered. But some things were just beyond an adultโ€™s capacity to understand. So I didnโ€™t mention it again; until My Favorite Martian went off the air, and the hospital began playing reruns. It just didnโ€™t seem right. So now, with a whirly motion of my index finger, I freeze the nurses in their spot and levitate pharmaceuticals from their rolling carts to speed myself up, landing on just the right frequency. Gloria and me forever in sync. My eyes wide shut. โœฆ


Karen Schauber's flash fiction appears in ninety international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies, with a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and four Best Microfiction nominations. She is editor of the award-winning flash fiction anthology The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings (Heritage House, 2019). Schauber curates Vancouver Flash Fiction, an online resource hub, and Miramichi Flash, a monthly literary column. In her spare time she is a seasoned family therapist.

Speculative fiction & POETRY ZINE
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