OUR DAYS OF COOL • by Rasmenia Massoud

When my phone rings, I don’t expect it to be Amy. She never enters my mind when I pick up. Each time I see her name on the screen, it’s a surprise. Each time, I’ve forgotten, and then I remember her all over again.

The catching up, the small talk. It’s a formality. If she’s calling me, it’s because someone died. Someone she’s kept in touch with, whom I’ve forgotten.

“How’re the kids?” She pretends to care. She doesn’t. I don’t mind.

“They’re doing great,” I lie. I search inside myself, in that place where I hide my truth for a reason why, but I’ve got nothing.

“How old are they now?” She’s forgotten their names since the last time we talked. She’ll forget again after we hang up.

“Molly’s almost fourteen. Derek’s ten. So, how’s everything where you are?” I have no idea where she is. I can’t keep track of things like that. I can’t keep track of who she is, much less where she is.

All I can remember is who she was. Who we were when we cruised around town in that Mustang, covered in gray primer.

“I’m gonna get a sweet-ass paint job,” she’d say. “And I’ll replace that dented quarter panel.” It remained dented and primered until it died. She sold it for parts to a scary guy in the junkyard whose eyes followed things we couldn’t see.

Our bong sat between the bucket seats. When the munchies hit and it was time for drive-thru, one of us threw an arm over it. So clever. So stealthy.

Every night was something. A party. A fight. Cruising Main Street, heads out the windows, shouting at people on the street. Smoking. Leaning on street posts. Working hard at looking cool.

No one as cool as us. Pull the Mustang into a quiet place. Fixing our makeup. Brushing our hair. Guys thinking we always looked that good. They pulled us over, stopped us in the street to say so; to invite us to their parties.

They didn’t know the awkward us. The awkward me, pretending at confidence.

We knew it was only a moment. Our days of cool were numbered. Even when we were in it, right now was already gone.

We didn’t know what it would be. Maybe a man. A baby. A death. What we knew was that soon, we’d pass thirty and get wrapped up in dull, adult things with no time or energy leftover to work at being cool.

Just like that. Whoosh. Zoom. It’s over, and we’re here. From past to present. Me, with my leukemia-infested daughter and ten year-old son who grows angrier every day. He can no longer process things like leukemia and absent fathers. Amy, off in another far corner of the world I can’t imagine, eating strange food and mingling with people in foreign tongues.

Once or twice a year, we have this chat. When another old friend we used to know drops and falls away from us. Then we laugh about cruising in old rusted cars, crazy flings and hilarious accidents. Amy doesn’t need to know the me that lives here now. Who I used to be is enough.

So, I work hard at sounding cool until we say goodbye again. Until her next call doesn’t come.


Rasmenia Massoud is from Colorado, but after several weird turns, she ended up somewhere in France, where she spends time confusing the natives by speaking French poorly and writing about what she struggles most to understand: human beings. She is the author of the short story collections Human Detritus and Broken Abroad. Some of her other work has appeared in places like The Foundling Review, The Lowestoft Chronicle, Literary Orphans, Metazen, Full of Crow, Flash Fiction Offensive and Underground Voices. You can visit her at www.rasmenia.com.


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Rate this story:
 average 4.8 stars • 4 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • I read this, and with eager anticipation read your other works here. I think you have the flash concept nailed. I get what you are doing. I love your characters, your voice and the feeling they give me.

    • S Conroy
      Followed your lead here. It's the kind of writing a writer can learn from methinks.The author has a unique. voice.
    • G. L. Dearman
      I also went back and read the author's other works here. This is the best thing she's posted here, and that's not to slight her earlier pieces, which are also good. I liked this enough that I went to the author's website to read some of the stories linked to there (there are a lot). I liked what I read enough that I followed on Facebook so I'll hear when new work comes out.
  • I read this, and with eager anticipation read your other works here. I think you have the flash concept nailed. I get what you are doing. I love your characters, your voice and the feeling they give me.

    • S Conroy
      Followed your lead here. It's the kind of writing a writer can learn from methinks.The author has a unique voice.
    • I also went back and read the author's other works here. This is the best thing she's posted here, and that's not to slight her earlier pieces, which are also good. I liked this enough that I went to the author's website to read some of the stories linked to there (there are a lot). I liked what I read enough that I followed on Facebook so I'll hear when new work comes out.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    Excellent flash from title to final sentence. Must admit, I thought the MC was male until the mention of makeup (not that men don’t wear makeup). Also, I would have used ‘riddled’ instead of ‘infested’ (I think of parasites), but then I’m a pedantic so-and-so.

    • S Conroy
      Same here. Up to that point I thought it was an old boyfriend.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    Excellent flash from title to final sentence. Must admit, I thought the MC was male until the mention of makeup (not that men don’t wear makeup). Also, I would have used ‘riddled’ instead of ‘infested’ (I think of parasites), but then I’m a pedantic so-and-so.

    • S Conroy
      Same here. Up to that point I thought it was an old boyfriend.
  • Hartley Isles

    This story moves like a chill, brisk wind.

  • Hartley Isles

    This story moves like a chill, brisk wind.

  • D.J. Kozlowski

    I feel like I live this story; well done!

  • D.J. Kozlowski

    I feel like I live this story; well done!

  • S Conroy

    All too realistic. I felt like shaking them, since I imagine that both would have real adult problems to deal with and could probably actually be supportive of one another in an ideal world.

  • S Conroy

    All too realistic. I felt like shaking them, since I imagine that both would have real adult problems to deal with and could probably actually be supportive of one another in an ideal world.

  • MPmcgurty

    Lovely.

  • MPmcgurty

    Lovely.

  • One of the rare stories that leave me with a “wow!”

    The voice here seems flawless to me. The writing is exceptional and the story held me from start to finish. The ending was powerful and the story really hit home to me, and I’m sure to a lot of others here who are my age (late 40s).

    Can’t believe I’m giving another 5-star rating this week, but man, this was a slam dunk. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • One of the rare stories that leave me with a “wow!”

    The voice here seems flawless to me. The writing is exceptional and the story held me from start to finish. The ending was powerful and the story really hit home to me, and I’m sure to a lot of others here who are my age (late 40s).

    Can’t believe I’m giving another 5-star rating this week, but man, this was a slam dunk. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Tony Acarasiddhi Press

    Excellent — a life in a flash, in flash fiction.

  • Tony Acarasiddhi Press

    Excellent — a life in a flash, in flash fiction.

  • Friedmab

    Great story – my one quibble is logistical; I got the impression that their conversations were infrequent (especially from Amy not remembering the teenage kids’ names, and from the narrator “not expecting” her call at the start) — so I was taken by surprise when at the end it’s said that they have this chat “once or twice a year.” That seems a lot more frequent that I would have expected, given the distant tone, the forgotten names, and the basic math: (oldest daughter is 14 times 1.5 calls a year… = 21 conversations?). That detail aside, this was powerful!

    • MPmcgurty
      I thought I left a comment for you yesterday. Weird. For me, the contradiction was one of the important things in the story. They talk once or twice a year, but in between it's like the other doesn't exist until Amy's call is spurred by the "drop" of an old acquaintance. In fact, it made an otherwise nonsensical last sentence a great one.
      • I agree. It really made the last sentence pack a punch.
  • Friedmab

    Great story – my one quibble is logistical; I got the impression that their conversations were infrequent (especially from Amy not remembering the teenage kids’ names, and from the narrator “not expecting” her call at the start) — so I was taken by surprise when at the end it’s said that they have this chat “once or twice a year.” That seems a lot more frequent that I would have expected, given the distant tone, the forgotten names, and the basic math: (oldest daughter is 14 times 1.5 calls a year… = 21 conversations?). That detail aside, this was powerful!

    • MPmcgurty
      I thought I left a comment for you yesterday. Weird. For me, the contradiction was one of the important things in the story. They talk once or twice a year, but in between it's like the other doesn't exist until Amy's call is spurred by the "drop" of an old acquaintance. In fact, it made an otherwise nonsensical last sentence a great one.
      • I agree. It really made the last sentence pack a punch.
      • Friedmab
        I don't know. The narrator says, "If she’s calling me, it’s because someone died." Is 1-2 friends dying a year really realistic/common for people in their 40's? They didn't seem to come from a dangerous/violent upbringing. I agree the repetition and contradiction you cite is a powerful element, I just had some difficult buying into the that frequency of death, chat, and forget, personally.
        • MPmcgurty
          You raise a good point, so I don't know either. Maybe it's not just death; maybe it's any tragedy? That could certainly bring it up to 1 or 2 a year.
          • Friedmab
            Perhaps. Anyway, it's a small quibble in what is otherwise a beautifully told story.
  • Mickey Hunt

    I have Facebook friends like Amy. We haven’t seen each other since high school four decades ago, and yet I enjoy reading about their lives, and they about mine. We are connected like brothers and sisters. The story is well done, but my sadness is different.

    • Mickey Hunt
      Once during a whole school assembly I walked up to the microphone and said, "Be cool." That was the sum of my public philosophy then.
  • Mickey Hunt

    I have Facebook friends like Amy. We haven’t seen each other since high school four decades ago, and yet I enjoy reading about their lives, and they about mine. We are connected like brothers and sisters. The story is well done, but my sadness is different.

    • Mickey Hunt
      Once during a whole school assembly I walked up to the microphone and said, "Be cool." That was the sum of my public philosophy then.
  • Chinwillow

    Woohoo!! Love it from start to finish.This is how I like to start my morning… So well done! Thanks! 5 stars from me:)

  • Chinwillow

    Woohoo!! Love it from start to finish.This is how I like to start my morning… So well done! Thanks! 5 stars from me:)

  • JAZZ

    I agree with Friedmap regarding the frequency of the calls. Stilted conversation, yes, but would you really go down memory lane again and again.
    Also, when I was young and trying to be cool, and thinking I was, I never gave a thought to becoming older. I was, as the lyric said, going to “live forever”. Most kids down through the ages felt the same.

  • JAZZ

    I agree with Friedmap regarding the frequency of the calls. Stilted conversation, yes, but would you really go down memory lane again and again.
    Also, when I was young and trying to be cool, and thinking I was, I never gave a thought to becoming older. I was, as the lyric said, going to “live forever”. Most kids down through the ages felt the same.

  • GK Adams

    Beautiful story. Well written. With large doses of pathos and reality. Thank you.

  • GK Adams

    Beautiful story. Well written. With large doses of pathos and reality. Thank you.

  • Loved this idea.

  • Loved this idea.

  • Michael Stang

    The car, the cool, the whole thing works. Well trained voice, excellent.