“Obligation” by Zin E. Rocklyn (528 words)
I had to double-check the word count because I couldn’t believe such a massive story occupied such a tiny space. The piece starts hard and doesn’t let up, forcing the reader to confront the horrors the narrator experiences, but also the horror the narrator only implies—a multilayered one, laden with symbols, none of their jagged edges buffed away. The weight of inherited trauma, of intergenerational trauma, of keeping secrets, of antiblackness, racism, and witnessing—they all coalesce into this powerful work of flash fiction that bites into the psyche like the narrator bites into her palmful of secrets. Stunning and visceral piece.
Featured artwork by Kenturah Davis.