The Dumps
by Zach Murphy

You get stuck driving behind a colossal, sluggish garbage truck. You begin to think about all the minor decisions, the split seconds in time, and the winds of fate — everything that had to come together in order to lead you to this very moment and place. You poured that extra bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast. You pooped again right afterwards. You headed out the door to your car and realized you forgot your wallet. You rushed back inside and grabbed it. On the way back out you noticed that your left shoe felt significantly looser than your right shoe. You bent down to retie it and you started walking again. Then your other shoe felt like it needed to be tightened too, and it was bugging you. You bent back down to retie your right shoe to balance things out. You got into your car and that one song that you hate had just started playing on the radio. You scrolled through all of the stations and concluded that silence was better than whatever was on the airwaves. You took off and you got stopped at that one red light that always seems to take forever. When the light finally turned green, you started going and the garbage truck turned out in front of you. You’ve been behind it for at least 15 minutes now. It smells like rotten eggs and dirty diapers. You roll up the windows. It doesn’t help. The garbage truck is going 30 miles-per-hour in a 45 miles-per-hour zone. You’re running late to the movie screening, even when you consider the 20 minutes of unnecessary previews. You can’t miss this review assignment, or else your editor will fire you. You want to switch lanes. But the traffic is coming on strong. It’s risky. Don’t try it. It’s not worth it. Don’t mess up someone else’s very moment and place. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You just did.

Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Boston Literary Magazine, Mystery Tribune, The Coachella Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, Ellipsis Zine, Ghost City Review, Drunk Monkeys, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. His forthcoming chapbook “Tiny Universes” (Selcouth Station Press) is due out in Spring 2021. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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