#175 The Vanishing of the Middle Class

by Hannah L. Miller

The Zero in Stephanie’s paycheck is lonely. The other four numbers won’t talk to it. So Zero begins studying magic. Simple slights and confabulations at first, but soon it moves on to conjuration. The other numbers take no notice but Stephanie is delighted by the bursts of rose bouquets and doves. In her living room, the Zero’s rabbits collect to nibble on strings of silk scarves and hop through the flaming gold hoops that lock and unlock endlessly.

When the bank notice comes, declaring a lean on her mortgage, Stephanie laughs. She reaches down deep into the Zero on her paycheck and pulls out a flourish of hundred dollar bills. She heads to the pet store to buy feed for the rabbits and doves. When she comes home, a repo man is waiting for her Chevy. He watches in astonishment as her Zero opens wide and spits forth a Cadillac.

“I wish I had what you got, lady,” he says, hooking a winch to her old car.

The bank has changed the locks on Stephanie’s door while she was gone and posted a yellow eviction notice. Stephanie cocks her top hat and spins so the sun catches the sequins on her stockings. She leaps gracefully over the poverty line into the Zero’s embrace.

“They make a handsome couple,” the repo man thinks, driving away. In the rearview mirror, Stephanie steps through the Zero and disappears in a puff of smoke.

The Zero, lonely, follows the repo man home.

21 comments:

Abby said...

Clever commentary and strong writing are both evident here. Jonathan Swift would be proud.

Anonymous said...

Whimsical and surreal meet tragedy. A profound little tale that really stands out. Bravo!

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karl said...

Really unique! I would love to read more from this author.

Milli T. said...

Whip-smart, funny, and sad all at once. Great story.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Hannah! I love it!

Minx said...

The language in this story is so simple but the images and logic are so complex. Really interesting, thanks for sharing.

bookspersonally said...

Such a fun piece-love the magical/playful quality of it.

Anonymous said...

What a poetically made statement. And so fun!

Anonymous said...

Excellent entry. And after reading this story all I can see in the abstrct prompt is a top hat full of magic!

Annie S. said...

I don't know that this is the right market for this story. It's more abstract and has a different mood than the other stories on this blog. That said, it is quite good.

RMGraves said...

Beautiful but dark, my favourite story so far.

conboyhillfiction said...

Smart little piece of magical realism. I like the way Zero slunk off after the repo man when Stephanie disappeared herself :)

Jen Harvey said...

Fantastic! So playful and imaginative.

itsfreedom said...

Magical realism about... magic? I agree with the comments that call it "dark" and also those that call it "playful." Nicely done.

Abe said...

This reads like an old fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.

Hannah said...

Wowza, I'm overwhelmed by kind commentary! Thank you all.

Anonymous said...

I've read through more than half the entries and this story really stands out. We might have a winner, folks.

Pinchofyum said...

That's a darn good story for any number of words but definitely for 250!

Anonymous said...

The perfect story for our economy. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Your article is very good yet little short. I hope you next articles could be little more elaborate that this one. Still good job.
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