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A Patch of Blue Sky: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on November 11, 2019
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Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.


My little patchwork of blue, crisscrossed by black stripes, becomes the solid color of the daytime sky through some optical trick if I stare long enough, which I often do. On a really good day, a blackbird or sparrow will land on the roof where I can see it, or a dove, on a very lucky day. I stare without blinking, tears streaming, and know that I share his innocence if not his freedom.

Occasionally, an airplane will fly across my blue patch, and I think of all the places the passengers might be going. Once, a lightning bolt rended and illuminated my darkened world view. At night, under a waxing moon, a white beam shines down through the darkness, recreating the barred window on the concrete floor.

Life on death row is simple. I’m allowed two books, so right now, Checkov and Faulkner occupy space beneath my bed. One of the guards brought me a King book, intending it to be a cruel joke, but I enjoyed The Green Mile, which really pissed off the man who gave it to me. Some of the guards are actually respectful. Only a couple are assholes.

I wonder if anyone still thinks about me being in here? Apparently I was a real celebrity during the trial, but that was more than two decades ago. My attorney insists on appealing my conviction every few years.

The crime I was supposed to have committed, but didn’t, was the sort that could not be easily forgotten, and there were many graphic police photographs to burn it into the social memory. The woman had been beaten, raped, carved up with a blade, then strangled. Forgetting is an efficient response. On one hand, it’s society’s self defense against horrific memories. On the other, it’s the ultimate rejection of the convicted.


I’m breaking out today. It was the birds on my skylight that inspired me. Now is my time to be free. I have nearly twenty years of observing the guards to know when to make my move. First I’ll stage a diversion followed by some quick acrobatics, and I’ll be gone.

The guard named Del is coming down the hallway. He’s one of the good ones. I like him. I tell Del I saw someone outside on the flat roof through the skylight, and he runs back toward the video observation room. They’ll all be focused on the roof for a while.

I rip bedsheets into long strips and knot them together for my means of escape. Getting one end over the bars below the skylight was the difficult part, but I manage.

I leap from the top of the sink, swinging, looking up at my patch of blue sky. I see a dove looking down on me as my vision fades. It’s my lucky day.


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