This is literal flash fiction, with the flash of a meteor leaving an impression on the eye of the protagonist.
Every line paints pictures of the scene, cramming vivid scenery into our brains in a very few words:
Darkened and sun-wearied bodies peel off from the waterline, shaking sand-crusted towels, dismantling giant domed tents under which multiple families could dwell. Sand castles decompose.
The main character is on vacation with his lady. McColough conveys–concisely–that their relationship is not 100% perfect, at least on this day. But they are not the subject of the story. As the narrator walks down the beach, he falls in behind another pair, and listens in on their conversation.
Everything is interrupted by a streak of light:
A flare lights the sky, bringing the conveyor of people to a halt. A whip-crack tear in the darkened canopy and daylight pours forth.
All of this semi-purple prose works, though, because in between, the conversation he eavesdrops is so earthy. The contrast works.
This story doesn’t offer resolutions, but it does feel complete.
It does the best of what flash fiction does: makes an impression and invites us to think more deeply about thigns that didn’t happen during the narrative of the story.
We’re invited to go inside the heads and lives of the characters, perhaps to get an angle on their humanity we might not otherwise have considered.