The Winner of the Last Flash Fiction Contest is D. Bellenghi

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Butterfly by D. Bellenghi

In the beginning, she was so different. I met Carlotta at a gallery opening my insurance company was co-sponsoring as a community project. I will always remember the first time I saw her....She stood alone, a mysterious aura surrounding her. She was as delicate as a rare exotic butterfly. She wore a silk dress in soft, muted colors. Her eyes were deep blue pools that I could not look away from. She was enchanting in a quiet, demure way. She was exquisite and I was captivated.

We married three months later. We settled happily into marital bliss, both of us very much in love, I thought. After several months there were small changes in Carlotta under the guise of her forgetfulness. There was not enough time in the day to complete any errands for me. Any business engagements she had previously agreed to attend with me became lapses of memory. At first, I took no notice. It was the sort of thing one dismisses. I loved her and my butterfly was all I saw.
Over time this pattern began to disturb me. When I sought any kind of information or answers, Carlotta became uncomfortable and we would argue. My questions to her seemed to be accusations. With unsure footing on my part and quick turns and maneuvers on hers, I was inevitably put on the defensive. As our relationship matured, I could see that my little butterfly had come out of her cocoon and found more than her wings. She could be moody and she became plagued with migraines. The migraines sent her to her bed, not to be disturbed. Over time, the veil fell from my eyes but not my heart.

There are periods of time that Carlotta is warm and loving and even flirtatious with me. She teases me, laughing full heartedly, her eyes bright and twinkling with mischief. I have tried so many times to keep this Carlotta with me. But she vanishes at will. Even now, Carlotta is my consuming passion. It has made me weak and her powerful; the grand puppeteer pulling the strings.

    I sit behind her in her dressing room and watch and wait. I have been waiting over a hour as she readies herself for the evening. She takes her time. There is no need to rush. The world will wait as I do. I do not mind the waiting. I am watching beauty. Carlotta does not acknowledge that I am here. I see her eyes flick from her reflection in the mirror to me and then quickly back to her. She tries to conceal it but if one knows what to look for....there, the slightest cruel turn upwards of her lower lip.  It is wisp of a smile that attests she is relishing her power and control. Even now, in this stinging moment of triumphant for her and pain for me, she is perfectly beautiful. It is all I can do to keep myself from taking her in my arms and kissing her until she succumbs to my love. She would detest me touching her that way. She would fly into one of her rages. She would leave me here and go to the party or not. She could be gone for days, doing whatever she pleased, with God knows who, just to put me back in my place.

When Carlotta is acting this way, she is like a spider, a spider that cares for no one. She belongs only to herself. She has allegiance to no one.  She cares only if it pleases her. She is free but I am not. I am caught in her web, waiting. She keeps me arms length, just to taunt me. She pushes me to the edge of madness and then because she is bored has pity on me. She acknowledges my mere existence with an unexpected thoughtfulness. The tormented prey is saved for another day as I wait for the butterfly to return. Some say there is a thin line between love and hate. . .


Yes I was thinking just a touch about “Double Indemnity” and “Criss Cross” when I made this painting.  Part of me expected that everyone would go with this and that each of the females would be a femme fatale.  This wasn’t always the case but a lot of the authors were on the same pulp page with me.

Three noir pieces with unusual and clever endings were, “Making up” by Stephen D. Rogers, "Latrodectus Hesperus" by Marlin Bressi andStrength in Numbers” by Elisa Bandy.  These three strong stories referenced the ideas in the film “Double Indemnity” and other noir classics, but took some agreeable detours from the initial inspiration.  I know that some people like a total off the path trip when they read a story, but I think the painting was begging for some ingredients of the pulp fiction formula.

Each author chose all the satisfying components of a pulp fiction tale with a few well thought out surprises.  Bressi turns the table on our expectations because we all have an idea about the ladies in these stories and he upends this.  Rogers in particular played with dialog that is almost quotable.   Bandy took the characters to a place I thoroughly did not expect.  I think that you’ll be like where they take things. 

Holy moley!  Talk about complexities and a can of worms, The Letter by Anthony Pino and "Get Up and Go" by Debbie Weiss takes the whole love triangle thing to the next level.  Both stories read like a treatments for a film noir scripts and this is a plus.   It’s kind of interesting how the characters in both stories were tied up in their situations, one had a kind of Alexander cutting the “Gordian Knot” while the other was a bit of a slow thoughtful solution.

The winner (D. Bellenghi) was not so much a story with a plot but an exploration of themes.  For me I was able to think in depth about Bellenghi’s “Butterfly” because of the exploration of both characters’ flawed characters.  “Butterfly” was partially based in the myth of “Echo and Narcissus” looked at how some people “love.”  I particularly liked the Ovid like imagery concerning insects.  A little Kafka a little Ovid Bellenghi deals with several types of metamorphoses.  In a way, it was the story that had the least amount of plot but made me think the most.

If I had two drawings I’d send one for “A Girl Would Have to be Nuts” by Patrick Nelson.  It was so “Thin Man” in attitude and so unanticipated by me that I completely dove into the main character’s head.  While I was engaged in the dialog and trying to figure out the relationship between the two characters, bam!  There is a fully developed story arc!      

Read them all here:

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