EDITOR’S CHOICE – Flash Fiction – The Ocotillo Review – Winter 2018

 Jessica VanDevanter packed abundant plot and emotion into less than 200 words in Jokers, this edition’s Editor’s Choice for Flash Fiction.

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            Sorting through some closet artifacts I found your playing cards.

They were left on the wrong side of the seam that ripped through us.

I cracked open the deck and smelled the waxy coating and it smelled like your fingers. The jokers were stacked on top where you left them.

The first time I watched you play black jack you came out $18 ahead. It was low stakes and you stopped after you lost two hands in a row. We were new and you were still pretending to have self-control. You would only order a second drink if I did. Your bed sheets were clean.

The first time I played black jack by myself I lost 13 peanuts. I was at the kitchen counter and your cards were laid out in front of me and the imaginary dealer was winning hand after hand.

I ate the lost peanuts and wrote things on the cards. Notes to you, stuff I never said. I tucked them in spots all over our city, just in case.

The only ones I kept were the jokers.

Jessica VanDevanter (San Diego, California) is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Certificate program at University of California San Diego Extension.


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Tony Burnett is an award winning poet and songwriter. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in over 40 national literary journals and anthologies including, most recently, Tidal Basin Review, Fringe, Texas Poetry Calendar 2014, Red Dirt Review, The Vein, Toucan Magazine and Connotation Press. He currently serves as board president for the Writers' League of Texas, a 1200 member non-profit supporting Texas writers in all stages of their careers. He lives in rural central Texas with his trophy wife, Robin.

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