Rick Hartwell

Spring/Summer 2015


Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.



Flash Fiction by Rick Hartwell

She’s on the beach. Sitting on a log. Talking on a cell phone, on a call of desperation. Speaking to a boy. She thought he was the one. But apparently not, judging by the salvo of her responses that I overhear –

About six weeks –
I’m sure –
No. No one. You? –
Oh –
Yes! –
It matters to me!’-
I said, ‘It matters to me!’ –
No, no one; kids on the beach; surf –
I don’t want to speak up. This is just between us –
No. I haven’t spoken with them. I thought it was something we’d discuss first –


The sets keep building and crashing, louder with each successive wave. She stops gesticulating with her left hand, punctuating her answers with off-handed emphasis.
She pulls the hood of the Brownell sweatshirt over her head. She buries herself deeper into the conversation, willing it to surge back to stronger life and flood her future with commitment –

No. I guess that’s all –
Isn’t that enough? –
No, I don’t need any . . . –


Words fall out and fill in around the crush of the next set –

I don’t want your help! –


She still holds the sweatshirt on her head with her left hand. She didn’t so much end the conversation, as let her right hand disappear into her lap. She’d been caught in the undertow of the conversation, her expectations drowned with disappointment.

He, the boy, the one, is no longer on the line. She is no longer on the phone. Yet, her conversation continues –

No. There is no one else –
No. I have no plan –
No, no one –
No, none –


Screeching gulls, protesting against everything, interfere –

No. I have nowhere else –
Yes. I do have a plan –
Yes, I am now here –
No, I can . . . –


The girl turns her back to the rising wind and me. The next set, the largest so far with the incoming tide, inundates her decision and chases me from the beach –

Much later. There are no longer children on the beach or lovers, seagulls or loners, except me, and neap and ebb tides scour the beach of everything but repetition –