Flash Fiction: Girl In the Shell

By: Francine Witte

Like Humpty Dumpty on a wall. Holes in the shell where her head pokes out, her arms, her legs. Everything but her heart.

Her heart lives alone deep in her chest. Won’t come out no how. Heart says, I love him, and I know he’ll be back. Till then, I’m just gonna hide.

One day, a clown hobbles by, tries to laugh her off the wall. When he smiles, it isn’t just the one painted on his face.

She shakes her head at him. “I would come down,” she says, “but my heart won’t allow it. It’s a hard, heavy stone in my chest.”

The heart beats louder now. He’s not the one I want , it says, he’s not the one I want . Girl in the shell listens to her heartbeat growing stronger and louder till the clown is mouthing mute words.

She goes back to watching the world go by, and time go by as she sits trapped and fragile on the wall.

Till one night, she sees the man she loves in the distance. A bouquet of flowers in his hand. You see? her heart is telling her. I told you he’d be back.

But instead, he is meeting another, shell-less woman who twirls around as she approaches him, her skirt flaring out like a daisy.

Girl in the shell wants to hate the new woman, but remembers her own twirly hello’s, and she ends up studying the woman and wonders when her own shell will form around her, and where her first cracks will appear.

Bio- Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two flash fiction chapbooks. Her full-length poetry collection, Café Crazy , was published by (Kelsay Books.) Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. She is a former English teacher. She lives in NYC.

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