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Missed Appointment by Nicolas Sansone | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

August 15, 2011      

Missed Appointment by Nicolas Sansone

Listen to a reading of “Missed Appointment” by Nicolas Sansone.

The time now is two to ten.
    The time now is one to ten.
    The time now is ten on the button.
    Ten on the button is the appointed hour for Helen and Stephen’s date. The clock on the wall reads two past the hour. Two past the hour is two minutes too late for punctuality. Punctuality is a quality Stephen prizes in a date.
    Stephen is alone now and he will continue to be alone as he waits for Helen and he will be alone when he gives up on waiting and he will be alone when he goes to sleep and tomorrow morning he will be alone and alone is how he will go to work and come home and scour the bathroom floor with disinfectant and book his train tickets for the weekend and catch the train for his weekend trip and return from his weekend trip and ultimately die in a flash flood as he is driving home from work, after the passage of twenty-eight years more. Stephen is, and will remain, alone.
    Stephen is not prescient. Stephen is not remarkable. Stephen is not a time-cannibal like Helen. Stephen is an actual accountant who is certified.
    The time two minutes ago was eight minutes past the hour.
    Helen has been detained on a Ferris wheel. Helen has lost track of time while window shopping. Helen has been nominated for a major award and is completing her formal application. Helen does not care about Stephen’s feelings or she is intimidated by Stephen’s feelings or she is gliding through the city on roller skates, carefree.
    Fact: Stephen deserves better treatment. Other facts: Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. Squirrels do not have a sense of smell. The double Windsor knot is the most popular knot among actual accountants. The hummingbird was invented in the early nineteenth century by Chinese immigrants. One more fact: Timeliness is next to godliness.
    If we’re talking facts, the time now is five minutes past fourteen minutes past the hour, which, if we’re talking facts, was the time five minutes ago.
    Helen is down a drain or on a skiff. Helen is a smallpox victim. Helen is using her face to launch a thousand ships.
    Stephen rises and paces and sits back down and he drums his fingers against his temples and he checks for messages and he re-checks. He feels annoyed and then desperate and then annoyed at feeling desperate. He feels imperious. He feels deeply.
    Helen is a triple-breasted trapeze freak. Helen is a suit of armor. Helen is Dorothy Parker’s armchair.
    The time now is fully twenty-five minutes past the hour.
    Stephen is thirty-three. Thirty-three years have grown a Stephen. To grow a Stephen, combine one sperm and one egg; feed; water; and let settle for thirty-three years. For thirty-three years, Stephen has been left to settle. At thirty minutes past the hour, Stephen will no longer settle.
    The time now is twenty-nine minutes past the hour.
    Helen’s blood is toxic sputum. Helen’s face is a dictionary open to the “P”s. Helen’s legs are straw. Helen’s hair is runny. Helen’s nose is mice and her eyes are a doctor’s bill.
    The time now is thirty minutes past the hour, and Stephen is gone. The time now is thirty minutes past the hour, and it is time to settle accounts. The time now is thirty minutes past the hour, and it is an unsettling time. The time is thirty minutes past the hour, and the ship is unmoored.
    The time in one minute will be thirty-one minutes past the hour. That is not now. Now, the time is thirty minutes past the hour. Now, nobody can ever know what time it is. Now, it is half past ten.

Nicolas Sansone

About the author:

Nicolas Sansone is a student in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the author of the novel Shooting Angels. His short fiction has appeared or is upcoming in a number of venues, including PANK, Bartleby Snopes, NANO Fiction, Denver Syntax, and The Los Angeles Review. More information is available on his website,

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