Narcissus at Caldwell Park by Constance Malloy

He took the bullet between the eyes. So yes, in his third eye. A third eye absent perception or any higher vision. Unable to see anything but the image of his unbearably handsome, faint-worthy face (and much to the dismay of Echo), he self-admired daily, hourly, by the minute.

What Echo did not know was he had yet to meet anyone whose physical splendor was powerful enough to sway his attention, except for his poor deceased twin sister. And yes, there had been incest. How could there not be? Only they could withstand the painful beauty of the other’s face. And they were, after all, simply making love with their opposite gendered self. 

Echo had called him to Caldwell Park. A five-acre mound of lush green grass on the far west end of town. Quiet. Secluded. The perfect place for a secreted picnic lunch. The sky, mountain blue. Unusual for July in Iowa. Normally, late summer humidity cast a pale white haze across the dome. But the weather on this day did not portend Echo’s intentions. To be frank, he wouldn’t have noticed anyway.

He never saw Echo in Echo’s eyes. He never saw the blue liquid pools of her irises. He never saw her pained brow desperate for his love. He never saw the way her pools leaked when he dismissed her feminine wiles. Instead, he swooned over his reflection. Over his full ebony coiffe, his own brown to near-black eyes, his brows that like an archer’s bow curved perfectly, his god-worthy nose, his rugged chin.

Echo brought him to Caldwell Park to offer her affections one more time. If he failed again to reciprocate, it would be his last. She had come prepared. Obviously, he had not.

The bullet lodged in his skull. Timely surgery by a skilled hand saved his life but that same hand was unable to save his sight.

In the split second before he heard the explosive sound of bullet breaking skull, he had been examining his baby-soft cheeks in the mirror of her eyes. Before he felt metal hitting bone, he saw his physiognomy bend into the grotesque, disfigured by the shock of the pistol encroaching into his periphery vision. This image, flash burned onto his cornea, lived with him daily, hourly, by the minute.


A Fiction Editor for New Flash Fiction Review, Constance Malloy’s writing has been anthologized and nominated for Best Microfiction and shortlisted for Fractured Lit’s Micro Fiction Contest. Her stories have appeared in Bending GenresNew Flash Fiction Review, The Daily Drunk, and talking about strawberries all of the time. She is the author of Tornado Dreams: A Memoir, and is the creator of The Burning Hearth Blog, which features her video interview series In Conversation. She was baked and raised in small town Iowa and currently lives in Wisconsin. constancemalloy.com 

September 27, 2021