Hills like White Elephants is a short story by Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1927. It details a seemingly simple conversation between an American man and a woman, taking a drink at a quiet rail station near the great Ebro river in Spain. As they wait for a train to Madrid, their conversation reveals itself to have heartbreaking consequences. You can read the entire story here (and I would suggest doing so before reading on!)
A while back, I was challenged to write a piece of flash fiction based on the story. Gumballs is the result – I hope you enjoy it.
by Michelle Foster
(Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants)
I know it’s over. Of course I know it’s over. Why doesn’t he say it? It’s as if he is reading from a script. Say it, damn you! Stand up and shout it. Admit you’re already gone. Damn him. More drink. If I drink enough, will this all go away? Please go away. Please. It’s so pretty here. Bad things shouldn’t happen in such a pretty place. We should get golden brown together, and love, and laugh. Not this…not this….breaking.
I am breaking. Please don’t leave me. Please.
He wants to scrap this thing out. Out of me. So simple he says. Out of my body. My body, mine. Who is he? My skull feels fractured, I wish he would stop talking.. Stopstopstop. I’m going mad. The Spanish woman ignores us between drinks. The station stands empty. A breeze blows across my skin, rattles the beads on the curtain.
I like them. Gumballs. I almost put one in my mouth to feel the smoothness of its surface, brace my teeth hard against it. But I don’t do I? I never follow through. Perhaps he is right.
I might walk along this platform, look at this strange land. Beautiful and terrible. Terrible for all the promises it has made, and those broken. Broken. I am broken. Please don’t leave me.