Flash Fiction Friday: The Town of Ugly Women
by Eric Hendrixson
There’s a town where all the ugly women go, slipping away at different times. Some, retreating from a high school dance, walk alone to the parking lot, to an ugly brown station wagon, taking a right after the post office, down the street that only the postman returns from. Some women get there late, smelling of smoke and stale beer, gin, bourbon and used latex. Some come in taffeta dresses or cotton housecoats, some in rolled up jeans, some scarred and naked, but most of them show up in sweats.
The postman says the streets are empty in the town of ugly women, but he delivers catalogs, magazines, and boxes from all over the world. He never carries any letters back. Soft voices whisper every time he leaves, and to this day he’s never looked behind him.
After sunset in the town of ugly women, they light a fire in the broken fountain outside of city hall, using a stack of bridesmaid’s dresses, self-help books, and returned Valentines, keeping the flames up with hairspray and control girdles. And a lot of the ugly women were in band, so some nights they play their flutes and clarinets, their oboes and tubas, their bass drums and trombones, and you can hear it all the way over to where everyone else lives.
And nobody knows what the song is, but the music plays all night, a mix of instruments with nobody conducting. And when the ugly women dance, their shadows paint the mountains. The moon hangs horned, burnt orange in the sky. They stamp archaic patterns in the earth. They spread their arms and raise their lips to laugh. The fire paints their shadow on the mountains. Their bodies sweat like petals in the rain.
These nights, the pretty women tie their husbands to their beds. The husbands kick and scream until morning comes. They seal their son’s ears off with candle wax. They lock the doors and keep the shutters closed.
Eric Hendrixson is the author of Bucket of Face. You can visit him at his website, aptly titled “Frying the Cat.”