'Leaving Spokane' by Dan A. Cardoza

Hemingway once wrote a short story in six words, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Some say this was his best work.

Her story: “It Begins in Ketchum, Idaho.”

They traveled east out of Washington State, through the awkwardly beautiful Coeur d'Alene in the paved shadows of teal conifers that measured distance in cambered yardsticks of silence. Nearly out of the forest, Ciara lowered the convertible’s top. This created just enough wind turbulence to inhibit conversation.

Slate said, “Thank you, I love the fresh air.”

Healing from inside out is an arduous burden without any internal patching. When one carries a wound meant for two, the challenge can feel insurmountable.

“A vacation’s an order,” Said Dr. Carter, “Please don’t isolate. Don’t forget, I’m your advocate.”

Ciara paid dearly for his altruism.

Slate conspired , “A long trip might help.”

Inexplicably, all the men in her life seemed to know what was right for her.


When Slate finally spoke, it was of Hemmingway. He maintained that when love found its way to his beefy heart, it was not good enough, and toward the end, he created his own emotional restraints in the Ketchum Mountains of Idaho.

“Hemmingway rattled his literary tin cup against a cell door of his own making,” He said, “but couldn’t get his critic’s attention. He was lost in the bottom of madness and nihilism.”

“He didn’t know what he wanted,” said Ciara.

“He squandered what remained of his talent, and used up all his vernacular, some trivial, some consequential,” according to Slate

Abruptly she appealed, “And what of our phantasm?”

A passing truck zoomed by, shielding Slate from responding. But in a subsequent lull, he felt a need to answer her.

“We all have our reservoir of desires. Ultimately, some are insignificant, others profound in their reach. Ernest Hemingway just emptied, ran out of appetite.”

Slate continued, “During his entire literary life, he lacked caring, compassion, and in the end, hope.”

Slate paused, under hypnosis from the strobed sunlight, and awaited Ciara’s acquiescence regarding living one’s life without virtue, in an attempt to assure the survival of self.

In truth, Ciara thought Slate had just characterizing himself. “Why did it take two days before you came to visit?” She insisted.

As Slate swallowed her pain, he condescended, “You were in good hands, well cared for, and the last thing I wanted was to be a distraction.”

Like a waning storm, she calmly spoke, “Slate, I have lived far too long in a vortex of emptiness.”

“We all have needs I suppose,” Slate begrudgingly admitted. He should know, his mind was rabid with need, and a meager capacity for the wants of others.

Finally, they’d reached Ketchum. Ciara pulled over and fastened the ragtop tight, before driving off into the setting sun. She thought Ketchum, a place where new journeys begin. Through the windshield, they watched as the horizon consumed light.


Dan A. Cardoza has a MS Degree in Education from UC, California. He is internationally published, and is the author of four poetry Chapbooks, and an eclectic flash fiction collection, Second Stories. Find him on Twitter: @Cardozabig, on Instagram: @danacardozalit, or at his website: http://www.danacardozawriter.com/

His partial credits include: Abstract Magazine ~ Contemporary Expressions, Adelaide, Cabinet of Heed, Cleaver, Dime Show Review, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Frogmore, Gravel, New Flash Fiction Review, Poached Hare/Upcoming, Rabid Oak, Riggwelter, Spelk, Tulpa, and the White Wall Review.

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