Emerald Bolts Myles Wren
A Magazine for Flash Fiction

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Overtaxed


It couldn’t be put off any longer. The man in the blue suit dreaded this moment, but there was no avoiding it. He had waited so long that now he would have to take care of it in person rather than with the simplicity of sending it in the mail.
     Property taxes!
     As he walked up to the suburban town hall, he saw he wasn’t the only person who had decided to wait until the last moment. Through the glass doors, he saw a short line of people. Six were ahead of him awaiting the privilege of handing over thousands of dollars.
     With a resigned sigh, he opened the door and entered to take his place behind the other cheerless souls.
     The sounds of wailing intruding the usually church-quiet rotunda surprised him.
     He quickly pinpointed the source. Everyone had.
     A grieving woman in her mid-40’s was sitting on a bench outside the door that led to the police station.
     Her tears and her words had everyone transfixed with either mournful glances in her direction, or intentional stares away. 
     “My baby! Why? My life is over,” she cried out to no one in particular.
     The woman who had been third on line somberly stepped to the window. The clerk collecting taxes glanced up from sneaking a text, and took her paperwork and check.
     “So sad,” the clerk said quietly, the only words between them.
     When she was finished, the woman who had been third on line walked over to the grieving woman and offered her a tissue and some consoling.
     “Why?” the grieving woman went on, oblivious to the arm around her shoulder yet seemingly addressing her new bench mate. “Such a wonderful boy. He was afraid to go the first day of school. Wouldn’t let go of my leg, but he went. His teacher told me he shared with the others. ‘So kind,’ she said.”
     “I’m so sorry for your loss,” the woman who had been third on line said, as sympathy ordered her tear ducts into action.
     A young prosecutor walked by, offering the proper deference to the situation.
     Entering the police station, he asked softly, “Mother of the victim?”
     The officer behind the desk didn’t look up from her crossword puzzle.
     “Nope. Mother of the killer. Nine-letter word for ‘unfairly burdened.’ Any clue?”
     They shared a chuckle when the prosecutor suggested she try the word “prosecutor.”
     Then, the prosecutor went to his meeting and the officer went on with her crossword puzzle. The woman who was third on line left the wailing woman her pack of tissues and went back to work. The clerk continued to collect taxes and text, and the man in the blue suit went out to his car to make some calls for work as he ate his lunch.


   
  

- Myles Wren  (USA)




Myles Wren was born and raised in New York, where he is still living. Encouraged by the reaction to the 2013 production of his play, It Might Have Been, he has turned to writing short stories. This is his first publication.



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 Copyright © Emerald Bolts Magazine, 2014
The front page image is copyright © by Tony Kitterick, 2012