"And So It Begins." Flash fiction stories of up to 500 words that begin with a first sentence we provide. The first sentence for issue six is "I'm not built for this kind of thing anymore."


By Peter Orner

“I’m not built for this kind of thing anymore.”

“You’re not?”

“No. I’m quite sorry.”

They were the only ones on the tram. He had been, up to the moment when he’d come out of the little glass cockpit, driving the tram. His announcement needless to say came as shock to her.

“You mean you aren’t going to drive the 26?”

“No. And on weekends I drive the 18. I won’t be driving that anymore either.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to walk,” she said.

He looked at his hands and then back at her mild not unpretty face. Life, he wanted to announce (for she was young and he was old and therefore he felt he should have something to teach her, some wisdom to impart) but as soon as he thought this he knew that he had nothing to offer but this, his not going another inch further, ever.

“Life is – ”

And she looked at him then – her standing there clutching her handbag, preparing to walk –

This was in a medium size city in Austria in 1982. Such a thing had never happened before. Or at least the two of them thought they were taking part in something unique. The tram, inert, it made her think of a dead hippopotamus. And then from there for no reason other than hippos are something like whales – she thought of Jonah amid the blubbery walls. What made him want to leave there? She put her bag down by her feet again if not to stay forever, at least for a while before the world – not the driver, it would never be him – spat her out of here.