August 19, 2019

Karen Toralba’s Flash Fiction, “Pragmatic Spirituality”

Karen Toralba’s Flash Fiction, “Pragmatic Spirituality”

     “I’m sensing you’re burdened,” she closed her eyes tightly. “Can I pray for you?”  

     Well, this seemed appropriate, Carrie mused, in a church of all places. “Sure.” 

     The sensor, young and fresh, placed her hand firmly on Carrie’s shoulder and held it in a grip deep with passion as she closed in to a personal space intended for more intimate persons. 

     Her eyes still bound without earthly vision, the woman began: “I’m feeling you’re burdened. Yes, a heavy burden. I’m sensing someone’s hurt you. Someone stabbed you in the back.” 

     Carrie’s mind shot to one or two people, then more. Yes, she had been hurt, within the past year even. But, burdened? Perhaps if she had thought about it more, one might label it as a burden. Stabbed in the back? Well, yes, that too. But, isn’t being hurt some form of being stabbed in the back, though to varying degrees of puncture? Yes, she had been burdened, and yes, stabbed in the back. She breathed deeply as the woman continued.  

     “I’m sensing something else. Does French fries mean anything to you? I don’t know why I’m sensing that, but I just have to say what I feel.” Her eyes closed even more tightly; her brow furrowed in determination. 

     French fries? Some of the now-increasing number of back-stabbers enjoyed fries. She enjoyed fries too, but not to a degree which should dominate someone’s vision of her. Her mouth salivated, and her mind wafted to the current time of day, burdened by the length of it until lunch. Distracted, Carrie caught the last breath of the prayer. 

     “Yes, Lord, amen.” The woman raised her head and removed her hand from Carrie’s shoulder, waiting for a sweet confirmation. The expectation lingered, so she prompted, “If you want to talk about it, I’m here for you.”  

     “Yes,” Carrie began, “I guess I would eat fries for lunch, but I had pizza in mind, actually, and if I have fries, that means I’d probably have a sandwich or burger, and I’m just not in the mood for that.”  

     Momentarily dazed, the woman continued, “Oh. No, I mean has anyone hurt you? Stabbed you in the back?” 

     “Yes, of course.” Carrie noticed relief on the woman’s face. “Sorry, what’s your name?” 

     The woman softened her face to an empathetic smile. “Angela. Nice to meet you. And you are?” 


     “That’s a lovely name.” 

     “No, I’m jaded, Angela. You picked the most statistically probable cause of conflict in a person’s life. Everyone in this room has been hurt and stabbed in the back. Everyone in here has a burden. It’s normal, natural, part of life. And French fries? The only emotion that evokes in me is hunger. Honestly, I don’t think fortune-telling is appropriate for church, Angela. If you want to tell me about Jesus, just do it. No need for this soothsaying. 

     Speechlessmouth agape, Angela turned and scurried away 


Karen Toralba is an American living in Bangkok, Thailand. She has worked in English education for 20 years, most of which have been overseas. This almost exotic lifestyle opens many doors to unique experiences which can transform into stories. She is embarking on her publishing journey and has had the following pieces accepted for publication: “The Gift” in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature (July 2019), and “The Woman on the Bus” in Fiction on the Web (June 14, 2019). Visit her blog, A Southerner Abroad, at

#church#flash fiction#fortune telling#spirituality

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