What We Saw

For one second, the world stopped turning.

Yellow leaves burned defiantly on grey concrete and we scalded our fingers reaching

A man was so enraged by the sudden pause that he spontaneously combusted. Fractured eyes and splattered organs imploded all around us, but we could still hear him shouting, with his fragment of tongue, Bitch thought the whole damn world was hers

It was actually kind of funny, though I’m sure you had to be there, because none of us could imagine our anger outlasting our bones. The rest of us were thinking, “If I spontaneously combusted, I would be surprised, but at peace.”

The world stopped turning, but we were not scared. We thought, this was bound to happen. We thought, even a planet exhausts itself. We thought, seriously, it’s been going now for how long? Someone started to do the math.

But the world started spinning again. Someone else said, “Hang on, didn’t the world stop, or was that just me?”

One person said, “It wasn’t just you.”
One person said, “You dreamed it.”
One person said, “I think we all imagined it at the same time.”
One person said, “Does it matter?”
One person said, “What if the world actually stops all the time and none of us have ever noticed?”

But if I were ever that still, I would’ve remembered. I’ll tell you this: I’ve never loved anyone like I loved every single person who shouted out, leapt for the wall, crashed into my side, held out their arms to keep furniture at bay, fell to the floor laughing. I’ve never trusted anyone the way we trusted in that stillness.

When your child wakes up pleading for a story to soften the dark, begin, once upon a time, the world stopped turning. We were there.



Sarah Neilson is a New Orleans native currently living in California. Her flash fiction piece, “Convertible,” places second in Midway Journal’s 1000 Below Prose and Poetry contest, judged by C. Dale Young, and her short plays have been produced throughout North America. She holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and can be found on Twitter @SarahMNeilson.

Cover Photo Credit: Kylie Supski