THE SAVING BREATH • by Michael Seese

Gas hissed from the valve under the unmistakable sign: FLAMMABLE. Sydney struck another match, only to watch it go out.

“Damn it! Why won’t any of you light?”

Alone, more alone than ever, she tried again. And again. Luck still would not even blow a kiss her way.

She fell back, crying. So much had gone wrong lately, beginning with that night. She had ignored her parents and the weather alert, and decided to drive to Cameron’s. She always drove carefully, more so in the snow. She remembered missing the curve just in front of his house… The pond… Her car sinking… Gasping for air… Cameron’s arms around her… His heroic push…

Then watching him slip beneath the ice.

“I miss you, Cameron,” she managed between sobs. “I miss you so much.”

“I miss you too, Syd. But it’s not your time,” he whispered, blowing out yet another match.


Michael Seese is an information security professional by day. Or, as his son could say even at age three, “Daddy keeps people’s money safe.” He has published three books: Haunting Valley, Scrappy Business Contingency Planning, and Scrappy Information Security, not to mention a lot of flash fiction, short stories, and poems. Other than that, he spends his spare time rasslin’ with three young’uns. Visit www.MichaelSeese.com or follow @MSeeseTweets to laugh with him or at him.


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Rate this story:
 average 3.7 stars • 3 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Short, sweet and to the point. I liked this piece.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Short, sweet and to the point. I liked this piece.

  • I liked this story, it says a lot in a few words.

  • I liked this story, it says a lot in a few words.

  • Perfect. Five stars. What flash is all about. Complete story in few words.

  • Perfect. Five stars. What flash is all about. Complete story in few words.

  • Alie Bell

    Short, sweet, powerful.

  • Alie Bell

    Short, sweet, powerful.

  • S Conroy

    Love the way the last line turns it into a completely different story.

  • S Conroy

    Love the way the last line turns it into a completely different story.

  • Katherine Lopez

    Predictable story, predictable twist. Who names their protagonists Cameron and Sydney?

  • Katherine Lopez

    Predictable story, predictable twist. Who names their protagonists Cameron and Sydney?

  • Amy Sisson

    Surprisingly powerful for such a short story. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

  • Amy Sisson

    Surprisingly powerful for such a short story. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

  • Dale Short

    Short and powerful, for me. A bit cryptic on first reading, but after re-reading it sticks in my mind.

  • Dale Short

    Short and powerful, for me. A bit cryptic on first reading, but after re-reading it sticks in my mind.

  • macdabhaid

    Nice little mini-story. I have encountered the scenario in another story, but it makes it no less enjoyable.

  • macdabhaid

    Nice little mini-story. I have encountered the scenario in another story, but it makes it no less enjoyable.

  • Robert Santa

    Aargh! My fat fingers hit three stars! Should have been five. Great piece, short and sweet.

    • MPmcgurty
      I rarely vote, so I hit 5 for you. ;)
      • S Conroy
        Funny, I gave an extra star for the same reason. :-)
  • Robert Santa

    Aargh! My fat fingers hit three stars! Should have been five. Great piece, short and sweet.

    • MPmcgurty
      I rarely vote, so I hit 5 for you. ;)
      • S Conroy
        Funny, I gave an extra star for the same reason. :-)
  • Excellent… very clever and so succinct. The very definition of Flash.

  • Excellent… very clever and so succinct. The very definition of Flash.

  • MPmcgurty

    I like this flash a lot, with one question. If gas is hissing, doesn’t striking a match make it go kaboom? The spark is enough, isn’t it?

  • MPmcgurty

    I like this flash a lot, with one question. If gas is hissing, doesn’t striking a match make it go kaboom? The spark is enough, isn’t it?

  • Walter Giersbach

    Ha! I love this. 4 stars although it’s deceptively simple.

  • Walter Giersbach

    Ha! I love this. 4 stars although it’s deceptively simple.

  • Chris Antenen

    True flash. So well done, twist and all. Had to read it twice though. Sydney could be male or female. Naming is important. I once named a character Mark, but when I changed the name to Angelo, I got a whole new story. Gave it a five though. I figure that’s an easy lesson to learn and here’s the place to learn it.

  • Chris Antenen

    True flash. So well done, twist and all. Had to read it twice though. Sydney could be male or female. Naming is important. I once named a character Mark, but when I changed the name to Angelo, I got a whole new story. Gave it a five though. I figure that’s an easy lesson to learn and here’s the place to learn it.

  • Scott Harker

    I honestly don’t see a lot of effort in this one. It’s just a short, relatively sad scene. A little creepy. But afterlife/ghost stories bore me, especially in print. No doubt there’s some writing talent in this author. I just didn’t see a lot of it in this story.

  • Scott Harker

    I honestly don’t see a lot of effort in this one. It’s just a short, relatively sad scene. A little creepy. But afterlife/ghost stories bore me, especially in print. No doubt there’s some writing talent in this author. I just didn’t see a lot of it in this story.

  • Nice flash. I agree with @MPmcgurty:disqus that the spark that can cause the boom if she is close enough to the gas.

    Thanks for the story!

  • Nice flash. I agree with @MPmcgurty:disqus that the spark that can cause the boom if she is close enough to the gas.

    Thanks for the story!

  • L J Fulcher

    Well written, and very touching.

  • L J Fulcher

    Well written, and very touching.