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1. The Principle of Combustion

June 13, 1992.

Little boy Ama was playing in his room when he heard the commotion. At first, he ignored it. He preferred role playing with his G.I.Joe figurines rather than caring about people shouting at each other and using foul language.

He had been brought up in a Christian environment. Both his parents had come from small villages, where the divine matters and the traditions were followed to the letter. However, both of them were too open-minded and free-spirited to be contained in their respective villages. Having moved to a big city, they preferred to keep to themselves. They still valued their upbringing and had mostly kept to their traditions, but they were not as brainwashed as they thought that their fellow villagers had been.

The commotion grew stronger. Actually, little Ama could only hear one man shouting and cursing. He knew who it was. One of the residents of the upper floor. Ama had never liked him.

He was a white haired man; his face was scarred from the travels abroad as a sailor man and so was his attitude. He had always been less than polite, his manners were offensive, his sense of humour more so. However, Ama’s parents were close friends with him and his wife, so Ama had to put up with them both, whenever they came to visit.

The sailor carried on cursing for more than two full minutes. He used expressions like “go to hell”, “fucking stupid twat”, “piece of shit whore” and “worthless cunt”. He also said something about someone’s kid being an “abomination”.

Little Ama tried, to the best of his ability, to concentrate on his figurines. After a couple of minutes, the shouting subsided.

The Cobra agents were kicking the shit out of the G.I.Joe soldiers. This was happening for the first time ever. Lifeless G.I’s lay around Ama’s feet.

“Attack! Oh, you brave warriors!” Ama shouted, imitating the voice of the G.I. General figure that he was holding in his right hand.

“HA! HA! HA!” he, then, imitated the Cobra leader’s malevolent laughter. “You have no luck today! You will die like the rest, you worthless cunt!”

Ama immediately froze into place. His eyes felt hot and his cheeks burnt red with shame. In his 13 years of life, he had never cursed. Not even once. He had never even called someone so much as “silly”. He nailed his eyes to the door. He expected his mother to come in and teach him a lesson for using foul language. Any minute now, the door would open and he’d be in for a slapping.

His parents had never laid a finger on him, but he was certain that this time, he wasn’t getting away. He stared at the closed door; he held his breath, involuntarily. Half a minute later, nobody came in.

He smirked. Maybe his mother hadn’t heard him? His father was away on duty. His brother was at school. He was home alone with his mother. He was in his room while she was outside, cleaning the balcony.

“Cunt”, he whispered and chuckled. “Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!” he then shouted, as he made the Cobra leader jump around the G.I.Joe General.

A couple of hours later, Ama felt hungry. He read the time off the Casio watch that his father had bought for him. It was one of those digital watches that had a full calculator keypad under the screen. The illuminated digits were bright green. Like an Amstrad CPC monitor.

The screen read “14:51”. As soon as Ama had read the time, his stomach growled. As if starvation was on a timer and it had just gone off.

“Mom!” he shouted, “Mom, I’m starving!”

Silence answered him.

“Mom!” he screamed, angered, as he marched out of the room. The door slammed behind him. “Come on! What’s for lunch?”

He found his mother lying on the cold, flooded balcony. The water was still coming out the hose in her hand. Her face was wet, either from the water or the tears she had shed as death claimed her.

  2011  /  Phlegyanism  /  Last Updated January 4, 2013 by Phlegyas  / 


  1. Dawn Kirby says:

    NO, no, no!!! You can’t just stop it right there! What killed her? What happens to Ama? What about the neighbor? Good Lord, the questions are firing faster than I can type…Awesome job! I love how you nailed Ama’s shame, yet at the same time a mischiveous sense of exhilaration at his first adult slip-up. I never saw his mother’s fate coming! Can’t wait to read more!! =)

    • Phlegyas says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my short story! That’s nice of you. I’m so glad you liked it!
      Well, it’s a cliffhanger indeed but look at it this way, it paves the way for the next stories that will build on this one. It’s gonna be a series of “Principles”. As I described in FB, this “phlegyanism philosophy” series will be the basis of my favourite main character in the “Institution” saga. My always-in-progress WIP. Hopefully, one day, it will form on its own and these short stories will provide insight to the general mythology behind the novel.
      Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read and review. It’s always great to have the opinion of a fellow writer! Specially, when she’s that more experienced.

  2. Danae says:

    1. Υour writing is awesome
    2. Your handling of the english language is also awesome.
    3. We want more!

    • Phlegyas says:

      Thank you so much! Coming from you, it means a lot!
      The second part of the story is already in the works. I will be sure to upload it before too long.
      Thank you again. For stopping by and commenting on my story.

  3. I always thought you were English, until I read you tweeting λαικ θις. Your command of the language is certainly better than a goodly chunk of native English speakers, and I mean that sincerely.

    What a story. I don’t know much about the short form, but you do an excellent job of drawing us into Ama’s world of parents, play and scary neighbours – a comforting continuity that is then brutally cut short. All the more brutal, considering that children expect the status quo to last forever, something that you allude to by omitting any mention of Ama’s reaction at the discovery of his mother’s body.

    I wonder: are you hinting from the start that the boy is or will be Motherless (“A-ma”), or is that coincidence?

    Looking forward to more, mate.

    • Phlegyas says:

      You’re a man of mystery mister Scramasax!
      I’ll never get why/how come you’ve installed the Greek language codepage/keyboard on your machine. But you’re always surprising us pleasantly =)
      I feel I need to thank you for your kind words. You know, as a foreigner, a compliment on my command of the language is always encouraging. It might never be enough to make it as a writer (probably never will, indeed), but it’s heart warming when a native gives me a push. Thanks! (on a side note, my every day spoken English sucks big time. Partly explains why I seldom talk in person lol – TMI?)
      About the story itself, it was so exhilarating reading your input. If I managed to convey the “comforting continuity” I’m a happy man! (btw. I loved your choice of words -comforting continuity- spot on!)
      As for A-ma. You left me speechless! To be honest, I would have wanted to exploit it/present it as my own but, damn my psychotic infatuation with sincerity, I can’t.
      Actually the name Ama is a short for the character’s full name. One form of it, really. In the character’s name (this specific one’s) is hidden the entire ethos of the specific character. Long story.Hopefully, by the end of my “Institution” saga, it will reveal itself.
      Again, thank you for taking the time to read my story and provide such an enlightening review. Immensely appreciated!

  4. HERE says:

    Have you considered including a few social bookmarking buttons to these sites. At least for flickr.

    • Phlegyas says:

      There’s bunches of social bookmarking buttons under each post. What am I missing here?
      Indeed, I have not provided links for flickr. I’m not using it myself, but that means nothing really.
      I’ll try to add that one as well.
      Thanks for pointing this out.

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