Emily Rae Robles

the paradoxymoron

Flash Fiction: Graduating

I was older once.  Back in a day where innocence was for the young, I washed my hands of adventure and looked down my nose when nothing would look up at me. Back in a time when time sorted itself into tiny labeled boxes, I splashed my face with regret at the multitude of boxes that contained only emptiness.  Back in an age where age became irrelevant, I counted my wrinkles with quivering fingers and smiled at my own smile because I could find nothing else to smile at.

I became younger the day I died, graduating from this life to the next.  I started over again, retaining the knowledge I had but losing the harrowed hardening that had toughened my skin.  I said much in few words rather than the nothing in many to which I was accustomed.  I lived death with more conviction but fewer convictions than I had lived life.

I do not see myself in the future, because only the future can see me now.  It is a one-way mirror in which my reflection flickers.  It is a two-way street in which we race past each other without noticing.  My future is the only thing connecting me to my past.


May 16, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | , | 1 Comment

Flash Fiction: Insecurity

I have never seen the depth of your eyes, but I know their visions.  I have never felt the pulse of your heart, but I know its dreams.  I have never rested my head on your shoulder, but I know it is always there for me.

You have taught me the beauty that lies in uncertainty.  Your imperfections are what make you perfect. In the light that is your smile, the shadows that surround you are diminished into nothing.

When you doubt that your tears are of salt and blood, I bleed for you to know that pain is growth, love is heartbreak, and fear will never be your master. The words I sing to you are limited in comparison to the song you sing every day, just by living.


April 11, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | Leave a comment

Cravings (Flash Fiction: Day 18)

prompt: wild child

Stephanie had never been so warm and comfortable in her life.  Swaddled up like a newborn baby, she rolled along the bowling lanes until she reached the pins, at which point an employee yelled at her and made her get up and walk back to where her friends waited.  Her unwrapped blankets trailing behind her, Stephanie hummed to herself until the tunes in her head and the tunes playing through the tinned speakers blended together in a cacophony of sound.

“Stephanie, are you coming?” Evelyn asked, breathless from giggling at the bowling escapade.  “We’re going to get pizza.”

“Sure!” Stephanie said brightly.  “I hate pizza.  Can I get breadsticks? I’m definitely craving breadsticks.”

“Yeah, their breadsticks are fantastic,” Evelyn replied. She was used to Stephanie’s oddities.

The group of girls wandered over from the bowling alley to the pizza place, tittering amongst themselves about things they would forget about the next day.  When they sat down in a booth, Stephanie pulled out an apple and started spinning it on the table.

“Where on the apple do you think I’ll take the first bite?” she asked no one in particular, as she usually did.  “I wonder if the apple cares.”

“I bet it’ll be right there,” Karen announced, pointing randomly at the skin.  “Now go. Eat it.”

“I don’t think this apple wants to be eaten,” Stephanie pondered.  “Would you want to be eaten if you were an apple?”

“Definitely not,” said Pauline, who almost always agreed with everything Stephanie said.  It was easier that way.

“Would you rather be an apple or a breadstick?” asked Stephanie as their food arrived.

“Breadstick,” said Karen.

“Apple,” said Pauline.

“Stephanie,” said Evelyn, “You’ll never actually BE anything but what you are.  You know that, right?”

“Nope!” Stephanie twisted a napkin around her finger and gazed at it.  “How do you know what I am? I don’t know, so how can you? I have lots of options, but I think my favorite right now is still the bowling ball.  But when I go to college, I think I want to be a children’s book illustrator.  Doesn’t that sound fun?”

“Yeah, but it has nothing to do with bowling balls,” Karen pointed out.

“I can draw all the bowling balls I want,” Stephanie persisted.  “And breadsticks.”

The three girls gave each other dubious looks.  All three of them, though only in 7th grade, had long ago decided that they would open a fashion designing business together in the far-off future.  Stephanie had rejected their offer for a fourth partner, choosing instead to pretend to be inanimate objects.

“Well,” said Pauline, chewing on a piece of pepperoni, “I guess it’s the wild child who gets the coolest life.  Breadsticks are definitely worth living for.”

March 27, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | Leave a comment


It’s a Friday night, once again.  I’m on the corner of 26th and Main once again, watching the drunks stagger by, laughing at nothing in particular.  I’ve been here for a while.  Quite a while.  I believe it will be fifteen years this next Tuesday.

I am a streetlight.  I was erected fifteen years ago next Tuesday in order to shed light upon the sketchy doings of this small town.  I hate my job.  I could have been anything, and they made me a streetlight? What kind of a life is that supposed to give me?  I get vomited and urinated on by humans and other animals alike.  None of them show any respect for my long-suffering. Continue reading

March 13, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | , , | Leave a comment

Crunch (Flash Fiction: Day 17)

Prompt: chocolate

Crunch. Crunch. My tennis shoes are turning brown as the icy mud begins to coat their surface. My lungs are withering as my body pushes itself to its limit, dodging the puddles of ice and crashing down on the fallen fir branches. It is 7:02 on a Tuesday morning in January, and I am late for the bus. Continue reading

March 7, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | , , | 2 Comments

The Smile Maker (Flash Fiction: Day 16)

Prompt: renovate

My job is to make people smile again.

They come to me: the hurting, the fearful, the tired, and they all have the same request.  Make it stop, they say.  Make it go away.  Make me better.

Clear your mind, I say, and I will wipe off the residue of your pain.  Smooth out the wrinkles in your face, and I will put a smile in their stead.

They never know how to do this, so I sit them down in the chair of forgetfulness and iron their memories until they are blurred into oblivion.  Then I whisper a single word into their obedient ear: Smile.  The corners of their souls turn upwards, grasping for the air of hope.  It is false air, of course, but to their newly renovated selves, it is life.

When I have finished remaking someone, I send them off dressed in bright colors, with a smile on their face.  I get to choose the smile.  Usually, it is a recycled one I have seen on someone else’s face.  It looks slightly off when put on one of my patients because it is a smile that goes with different experiences, different sadnesses, a different life.  My patients have no recollection of sadness, so the pasted smile is incongruous with their lack of memories.  It is lucky for them that they do not notice the difference.  Of course they do not notice the difference, how could they?

They need memories, so I filter out some of the best that they had; ones that are not tinged with sadness.  They are happy now, always happy, filled with sunshine that never sets nor sees no shadows.  Their past is tucked away in a jar in my office.  I collect pasts.  It gives me a feeling of power, to own a tragedy that is not my own.  Some days carry one when I walk past the wilted flowers in my dried up garden, and I listen as the stories in the jar cry out to be told.  But I shall not tell them.  The stories have been replaced with someone else’s smile.

I have never had a patient return to me after their first surgery.  Their minds are no longer capable of processing sadness, so there is no need for another surgery.  Sometimes I sit in a coffee shop and watch a patient come in and order, or sit in a park and watch one walk purposefully, even if they don’t have a reason to walk purposefully.  They no longer know how to wander.  They no longer know how to wonder.  But they will always smile.

February 28, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | Leave a comment

Eyes (Flash Fiction: Day 15)

Prompt:  Eyes that can’t see

When I scan the world, the only one I cannot see is She: the one who gives me life, yet hides from view.  In some days, She stands before the mirror, and I watch the reflection that is not her.  She brushes the teeth I have never met with fingers I know well.

I am Eye, the one that sees all but She.  Even through the doors she closes on me during her sleep, I watch her dreams dance before me. She wants more than she lets her mouth tell her ears.  She desires a life beyond the lids that suffocate her vision.  She seeks a purpose that includes more than me.

Although I see her dreams, I cannot see  her thoughts.  Those are closed off to her and only her. I may scan the horizon of her existence, but all I see is what she lets me.  Someday, her dreams will break free of my confines and meet her thoughts in an all-encompassing dance of joy.  Until them, I will remain the Eye fixed to her vision, unable to see Beyond.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | Leave a comment

Five Years Old (Flash Fiction: Day 14)

Prompt: The color yellow

It was his Birthday with a capital B.  He had just learned about capital letters.  It was hard to keep them all straight, but B was easy because it was at the beginning.  Birthdays didn’t happen very often.  He couldn’t remember his last one, although sometimes Mommy and Daddy and his older brother and sister talked about it.  His last birthday had been about Balls.  That started with a B too.  He had had those extra-bouncy Superballs on his cake.  He wished he could remember more, because he really liked Superballs.  But this year was about Yellow.  His entire party was going to be Yellow.  He had yellow balloons, a yellow cake, and was wearing his favorite yellow polo shirt.  Everything was bright and happy like sunshine.

The only thing that bothered him was that his baby sister kept crying.  It wasn’t right that anyone should be crying on a day that was supposed to be happy.  He tried to cheer her up by showing her the yellow balloons, but she only tried to bite him.  He didn’t care about the biting because she didn’t have any teeth, but he was sad that she couldn’t be happy.

While Mommy vacuumed the house, he sat patiently in chair decorated with yellow streamers and watched the clock.  Telling time still confused him, but Daddy had told him that his friends would start coming when the big hand hit 12.  He was excited to see his friends.  They would be excited too, because they would get to eat cake and play games.  It had only rained a little bit that morning, so maybe they could play Cops and Robbers among the damp trees.

He watched cars go past the window, but his vision was interrupted by as smudge.  The window was dirty.  He hopped down from his perch and went to get the Windex.  While he mopped up the offending patch, his baby sister crawled up and put her chubby palm on the glass, chuckling with glee.

“No!” he cried, without thinking.  His sister’s toothless grin immediately froze and she whimpered, ready to belt out her complaints.

“Oh,” he said, realizing that this was the first time she had smiled in an hour or so.  ”Oh no.  Stay happy.” Talking wasn’t very fun; usually his brother was around to translate for him, so words weren’t necessary.  But his brother was upstairs reading, so it was up to him to calm the crying baby.  He sat down and talked nonsense syllables at her, words that didn’t need to be words, until she calmed down and smiled at him again.

“Good baby,” he said, smiling back.  He looked up at the clock again.  The big hand was almost at the 12! He heard a knock at the door and saw Mommy walk over to answer it and talk grown-up talk with his friends’ mommies.  He looked at his baby sister and tickled her under her chin.  She laughed.  He laughed back.  All was right with the world.


February 5, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, stories, writings | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Different Life (Flash Fiction: Day 13)

Prompt: Another day

Brian yawned.  It was 7:30 on a Saturday morning, but the sun streaming through his window poked him fully awake.  He lay there for a few minutes, then got up and scrambled some eggs for breakfast.  Elise was coming over, so he vacuumed the floor to provide some semblance of cleanliness.  He dusted off the pictures of his college graduation and sighed when he reached the picture of his mother, who had died the year before.  Passing the bookcase of well-worn books, he thought briefly of all the vast amounts of knowledge he had crammed into his head.  Was his electrical engineering degree worth all those sleepless nights and hundreds of thousands of dollars?  Was his successful job worth the monotony of his life?  His glance flit over to the cello that lay untouched in the corner.  He reached out for it, brushed some of the dust off, then started as the doorbell rang.  Elise.  He prepared himself for small talk, something he’d never been good at.  Maybe in a different life.

Brian yawned.  It was 7:30 on a Saturday morning, but the sun streaming through his window poked him fully awake.  This was way too early to be up on a weekend.  He had been out until 2 am the night before after a performance with his string quartet at Carnegie Hall.  They had premiered a piece by some up-and-coming young composer that Brian wasn’t a huge fan of, but it wasCarnegie Hall after all.  He groaned as the drinks from the after-party the night before pounded from the inside of his head.  Food.  He should probably eat food.  He mentally ravaged the inside of his refrigerator.  There was still leftover lobster from a fancy restaurant gig he had played a few days before.  Lobster for breakfast. It would have to do. He had achieved quite a bit of success as a musician, but he still relied on free food for most of his meals.  The thought briefly wandered through his mind: What would have happened if he had pursued that electrical engineering degree his mother had wanted? He sighed at the thought of his mother, bless her soul.  She had been so proud of him, but she had so wanted him to carry on his father’s business.  He groaned as the doorbell rang.  It would be his manager.  He prepared himself for business talk, something he’d never been good at.  Maybe in a different life.


February 5, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, stories, writings | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Performance (Flash Fiction: Day 12)

Prompt: heartstrings

(This is the first I’ve written about music, which excites me!)

In the hush before her fingers first brush against the keys of the grand piano, time seems to stop for me.  She freezes against the wind of passing years, memories hurdling across her motionless face and into the depths of my mind.

She is eighteen again, her hair flying in the wind as she swings through the air at the children’s playground, pulling the chains back until she nearly flips over backwards.  She is nineteen, crying on the sofa at the death of her parents until my own heart nearly breaks for her.  She is twenty, grim-faced, with falsified smiles layered over each other so I can barely find her real self. And now she is twenty-one, sitting at the piano bench that has become her home, ready to unleash her soul for the scattered audience that has drifted into the hall today.

Time begins to move again, and with it comes the pain of reality.  I hear her inhale in preparation for throwing herself once again into the agony of performance.  Her eyelids flutter closed as she suddenly strikes the first grating chord, fingers flying across the keyboard with an anger she has never physically displayed.

The piece is a swirling frenzy of harsh rhythms and dissonant harmonies.  As the weight of her arms nearly lifts her off the piano bench, I feel similarly suspended in the single moment of beauty that is her nine-minute long performance.  The undiluted essence of her being overwhelms me, first lulling me into flight through the incommunicable, then stinging me across the face with sudden changes of mood.

When she finishes her performance, I can feel sweat tingling along my backbone, shaking me into reality none too gently.  I make my way up to the stage, my gaze directed towards the piano rather than to her.  I want to see if my theory is correct.

I peer into the instrument, shuddering at the realization of what lies within.  She has torn out my heart and replaced the strings of the piano with its material.


February 5, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, stories, writings | , , , , , , | Leave a comment