I see them

Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

I see them at night.

You may say they’re not real, but in the dark hours when you’re not sure if dawn will truly come, they’re as real as anything else. Wraiths, spirits, ghosts? Or the manifestation of a troubled mind? Survivor’s guilt the psychiatrist called it. I have witnessed true evil, and now I carry it with me, always ticking, like a pocket watch that never needs winding. It counts the minutes and hours till I see those tortured souls. Yet, they’re with me always. I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night. I wear them like a second skin.

I’ll never know if I might have saved more people–only that I was betrayed, and that I was fortunate enough to escape. Finding my betrayer has become my purpose for living. In the meantime, I see the dead. Every night.

(144 words)

A continuation of my disjointed, non-linear spy series for Prosery where Lisa is hosting. The line she selected is:

“I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night.”
–Kimberly Blaeser, “When We Sing of Might”

66 thoughts on “I see them

  1. Clever weaving of prompt and your spy tale. The Hopper painting is so apt. One day you will gather up all the slices of story, and create a novella, or some such (we hope).

  2. Edward Hopper’s art is so evocative as is your prose. I used his art as a prompt in composition classes, and the students’ response were all different. (I probably mentioned this before, but I can’t help mentioning the thought here once again—striking!)

  3. The way this unfolds is deeply disturbing…so great writing, really superb…the tension rising…and the ticking clock…really some gorgeous lines! Of course in context anything but gorgeous…this is SO good because you did not attempt to shock, or hit, just carefully let the tension tighten, line by line…

  4. Hi, Merril. As others have said, the Hopper was a perfect accompaniment, and maybe it even gave a little of the inspiration; the Hoppers always look like such haunted night scenes. Frankly, I can’t recall a Hopper I’ve personally seen that wasn’t a night scene. You probably know his work much better than I do. Maybe another part of your spy series could be based on or involve a daytime Hopper, if any? Anyway, this is definitely a good piece of flash fictiion, as far as I am a judge of it (which is not much, it’s a new form for me, but I do like reading it. Yours compares favorably with much of it that I’ve read).

    • Hi Victoria, thank you so much for your comment! I truly appreciate your reading. I’m certainly not an expert on Hopper or flash fiction either. For dVerse prosery, we always use a line from a poem that the host provides, and then we incorporate it into a prose piece. It doesn’t have to be fiction. (Feel free to join us anytime! I’m hosting Poetics there today.) For some reason, I started writing about these spies, and I have no idea what happened or where it’s going, but it’s fun. Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment!
      I did find I had used a daytime Hopper for another piece of the story: https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/the-heaviness-of-secrets/

  5. Fascinating read, Merril! And it really echoes the Hopper image so well. You definitely get the sense of someone working undercover, putting together all the pieces, scheming and seething! The prompt line slips in so well too 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on Graffiti Lux Art & More and commented:
    Merril is a wonderful writer of stories, prose and poetry. I am particularly smitten by what she refers to as “disjointed, non-linear spy series for Prosery.”

    To read more entries in this “non-linear spy series”, click on the Flash Fiction category link at the bottom.

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