‘A Sense of the Obvious’ Flash fiction by Bill Teitelbaum

Bill Teitelbaum’s plays and short fiction have appeared in journals such as Bayou, Louisville Review, Montreal Review, Pacific Review and Rhino, and in anthologies such as Western Michigan University’s Art of The One-Act. Among his current projects is a collection of stories about the abruptly marooned called "Are You Seeing Anyone?"

On Monday Wayne Murray’s daily horoscope advised him as a Capricorn to consider his options carefully before venturing any novel course of action. As it happened Murray didn’t have any pivotal decisions pending just then, but it was sound advice nevertheless and he appreciated Madam Ashtarte’s concern.

On Tuesday Murray was advised to mend his neglected relationships. Did he owe someone a call? Had he failed to appreciate a recent favor? 

Not really, he decided at length. 

Still, Murray had to admit, that, had he any relationships at all, it was precisely the way he would have treated them.

Care for the people who care for you, Madam Ashtarte counseled, and Murray deposited her advice in the vault. 

Despite this gesture of accommodation, however, the next day she was terribly severe with him. On no account should he seek an increase in salary unless he could support the request with material evidence that he had contributed to his employer’s success.

That had been close. Encouraged by the prior days’ advisories, Murray had almost committed the blunder of his career. 

But now Madam Ashtarte showed she could also be forgiving. People never planned to fail, she observed. They failed to plan, to think ahead. Consider your goals, she suggested. Imagine where you want to be in a year, and then decide how you might make it happen.

And it was all so obvious, Murray thought. Hadn’t he always known these things? 

But that’s what made the obvious so elusive. To use what you knew, you had to know that you knew it. You had to ask yourself questions and pay attention to the answers.

What else did he know, Murray wondered, that he didn’t know he knew?

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