You cooked your breakfast on your baby's spoon. You addressed the letter to that kid in the crib,
told him Life is a grind, but I'm not a grinder. Life is a loss, but I'm not a finder. Even in that final note, you
had to help yourself to rhyme. Now you're under the weather and over the moon. Merry's a funny
name for you, as if Shaq's real name were Tiny. As if. Your pillbox is empty—just like me. P.S., you
wrote. Your uncle will take care of you. Will. To me, it smells like must. Now you're under the weather
and the Christmas tree. What's worse than finding half a worm in your apple? AIDS? The
Holocaust? Your pain? You uncrossed the line and the River Styx. You're the enigma—a holiday
miracle. No one should've survived thirty Klonopin, a pint of Jim Beam, three shots of insulin. Now
you're under the weather and twenty-two sheets. They'll tell you the cosmos wanted you to live.
They'll tell you it's 100% proof of a higher force. They'll tell you baby steps, only twelve. Jesus. They
delivered your baby and the note. They say the ventilator is breathing for you. They say there's a
good chance. They say there might be permanent damage. They say they thought it had snowed
inside, a kitchen covered in coke, smashed Oxy capsules, Carfentanil. I had to look that up. Did you
know zoos use it to tranquilize elephants? They say you'll forget.
Restoration of Farmhouse, 1724
Gutted, the house's entrails leak amber blood from the trunks and limbs of ancient maples. The
work begins in the sprawling interior, the filling of walls with wiry veins, copper circulation, an
expanding foam. The hand-blown windows watch with horror, anticipate the light with their
particular orientation. The starlight reveals the intricate patterns on moldings and rafters, the
architects' signature, like the curves of the fireplace and entryways, the pockets recessed in secret
Outside—there, look!—the farmer's axe. A fingerprint glows on a springhouse pump. Dust
smells like apple butter, and someone hangs out in the shell, unchanged for more than two centuries.
Seven foot ceilings, an entry into her compact character.
The corn rustles, the tick tock of crickets and seasons. Headlights cannot find this plot of land.
Isn't this what you wanted?—this retreat from modernity? The far-off city lights beckon like stars,
but so does she, with her slender fingers, her long nails. Recognize her ownership. She might learn
to love what you've done with the place. Her head does not bang against exposed beams. She is like
the wooden screws, still holding it together.
is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live
, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
, and he appears in Best Small Fictions 2015 & 2017
and The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction
. He founded and directs FlashFiction.Net
and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press
and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts
. He received his MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is on the faculty of Rosemont College's MFA in Creative Writing Program.