BANG! authors are showcased individually here online for a month. Each author installment is made up of three pieces in any combination: poetry shorts (20 lines) or fiction or nonfiction (500 words each) for a month. All work on must be previously unpublished. Submission period runs all year round. BANG! pieces are not published in The New Guard. Work should be very short: flash-short. Pieces on BANG! are meant to serve as a kind of calling card for the author. :: Our next installment will be posted in the new year on January 5, 2017. ::
Our December BANG! author is Scarlett S. Diaz. Scarlett is a BANG! invited writer.
SCARLETT S. DIAZ
Scarlett S. Diaz is an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on creative writing and painting. She was awarded the National YoungArts Award in the Cinematic Arts in 2013. Her work has been exhibited in the YoungArts Alumni Gallery, the Coral Gables Museum, Meta Gallery, The Museum of Contemporary Art and the O, Miami Poetry Festival. She participated in the Yale’s Writer’s Conference in 2014 and in Oxford University’s Creative Writing Summer Program in 2015. Previous publications include Raceme and The Exiles Press.
BY SCARLETT S. DIAZ
::Flash Fiction in three parts::
It wasn’t until the new neighbors moved in that we realized just how paper thin the walls to our apartment were.
We were living in Miami at the time—for both of us being the first time we were ever really serious about anyone in our lives. The old man who lived alone to the right of us hardly made a sound, and the only time we heard any real sign of life was when his son would visit to prepare him food for the month, leaving everything organized in containers and Ziploc bags in the fridge. The son’s visits were announced each time by the roaring of a food processor, and his departing marked by three sturdy knocks on our door, to ask us how we were and if we heard or noticed anything strange or unusual about his aging father.
For the most part, we lived in the company of our own noise and no one else’s. We moved in together during our final year of school with the help of student loans, some meager savings, and the unimaginable variety of odd jobs we took on: baristas, telephone operators, English tutors, even pizza delivery service. We were caught up in love and all of its vanities, so it was easy for us to forget the sound emitted by the world outside of us.
When the new neighbors moved in, a stage of our relationship had ended, a stage that was characterized by silence and ignorance, filled with all sorts of premature dreams and musings.
And to this day, we still grieve our simple days of quietude.
Our new neighbors were an older Cuban couple in their late forties or early fifties. Judging by appearance, they seemed pretty well off, so we were never really able to figure out what their intentions were moving into our humble little apartment complex. They were always composed when we ran into them in the hallway or elevator, but the fact of the matter was that they were producing the most awful human noise.
It took them about a week to settle in. We concluded that their new surroundings created the illusion of change and clarity, but it was only superficial, so after a week’s notice, they retreated back into their usual skins.
The mornings were usually quiet. Just the rumbling of car engines, sometimes you could hear indistinct murmurings or fragments of conversations, but nothing unusual or extraordinary. The mornings were not polluted by unnecessary passions, but rather, they were protected by the effects of yesterday's fatigue and the inescapable sleepiness that comes in the morning when waking up to go to work.
They would both usually get back home around five or six, which coincided with my schedule, making me the first accomplice to their suburban discontent. I would tell my partner about their conversations after she came home from work. They would argue about the most ordinary things, like misplaced keys or simple remarks about the day.
I started writing certain parts of their conversations, most of it was petty or inconsequential, but they did have moments of reason and lucidity. I can’t tell if there is any value to these fragments or if they only seemed true or important contrasted by all the other trite utterings that had resounded through our walls. Sometimes things only gain significance by the mediocrity that surrounds them.
I thought of these few sayings as bedroom adages or cosmopolitan aphorisms, or sometimes, I simply found one of their utterings inherently poetic for one reason or another.
Here are the transcriptions listed in no particular order of interest, with no editing on my behalf:
Five Proverbs for the Unintentional Voyeur
• “You come home late whenever you feel unwanted.”
• “The spaghetti is cold and untouched.”
• “My past should not hang over you as if it were your own shadow.”
• “You forget whatever lack of memory conveniences you.”
• “You should never go to sleep feeling so wounded.”
We felt terribly guilty. We shouldn’t have known these things. These were their secrets, even if infrequently they burst with revelation. This knowledge was unnecessary though, and we highly doubt that the neighbors were even aware that we were so well versed in their affairs.
How could we take back all the words we heard? Did they not realize how words, from an image or thought, turned into sound, pushing air from the lungs into the vocal folds, to articulate some meaning?
Our silence, was discreet and unobtrusive. It did not mark history, but rather, left space for something else.
Flash Fiction © Scarlett S. Diaz 2016. All rights reserved by the author.
Previous authors with appearances on BANG! are: Patricia Smith, Jose Padua, Pete Follansbee, Jillian Brenner, Alexandra Oliver, Mike Heppner, Marc Mewshaw, Timothy Dyke, Marcia Popp, Quenton Baker, Joshua Graber, Charles Wyatt, Julio Duggan, Erica Vega, Amy M. Alvarez, Jonathan Segol, Lissa Kiernan, Roger Bonair-Agard, James Kimbrell, Bridget Boland, E.G. Cunningham, Melissa Goode, Mark Wagstaff, Carla Stern, Sarah Glass, Jennifer Amell, Zakia R. Khwaja, Julie Poitras Santos, Lyall Harris and Amy Nash.