He is kissing his wife goodnight on the cheek as she slips off to the spare bedroom with Tylenol and a hot water bottle. “I smell like a seal,” she says. Before that, she’d been at her surfing lesson while he waited at home in the big dog’s chair, listening for the snap of the car door. He was wondering why he could no longer remember the feel of her cold foot skin in the middle of the night, recalled that she used to press her toes against his shins, how he missed that ice. Before that, she had gone quiet after he suggested that they fix up the little room that was supposed to be painted with elephants and birds, but they had never wanted to jinx things, so they left the walls plain. “It can be like a hobby center,” he said, but he had no idea what that meant, and he didn’t have a hobby. Before that, they were trying and failing and trying again, and he remembered sitting in the cold car at the seafront, holding her hand, staring at distant shapes that were probably not really dolphins, saying, “Whatever happens next time, we will not let it hurt us this much.”
Meg Pokrass is the author of eight flash fiction collections. Her work has appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2022 and the WIgleaf Top 50 2022, and has been anthologized in three Norton anthologies of flash fiction: Flash Fiction International, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, and Flash Fiction America. She is the Series Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.
Cover Design by Karen Rile