There were times many years ago, long before she got ill that they did amazing things with their small house, filled it with animals and warmth— sweet spotted dogs and sofa-cats, lop-eared rabbits and parakeets, all beautifully messy, and you could see if you looked with narrowed eyes that paint was peeling, water stains forming in corners like wounds, but they were a living kind of proof of devotion, and how humans were as trusted as small, helpless critters you didn't need to beware of, him next to her on the caving sofa when not driving her to doctor's appointments.
He stayed right there next to her on the caving sofa until somehow, one day, he started smoking again, cracked their van on the way to somewhere else, stinking from cologne, wearing tight fitting jeans as if to shrinkwrap his situation, returning to her with soothing throat lozenges like a dog with a duck in its mouth and with a gleaming crack in their van.
Spider Leg Smile
After which he couldn't accompany her to doctor's appointments. New watermarks spread out on their ceiling and you could see by his blow-dried hair and a spider-legged smile that he had befriended a widowed neighbour. Offered to paint her walls.
"I'm more generous than I look, Hon, see if you can flaw me for wanting to help," so that when an even younger one came along he could see inside her cleavage, like a child staring into a secret cave.
Inside their damp water-marked living room candles finally flickered off, you could spot all of the marks— and now there was only one large dog and five shedding cats and an elderly French lop-eared rabbit on Xmas morning next to the wife on the sofa, and she saw that hers was a shabby rental with a dancing Santa Claus in the corner who appeared deranged, and that the dog next to her on the sofa, with the long paw around her shoulder, was her prince.
is the author of 8 flash fiction collection and 2 novellas in flash. Her work has been included in The Best Small Fictions 2022, The Wigleaf Top 50 (2022), and her story, "Pounds Across America", is forthcoming in Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton, 2023). She is the Founding Editor of Best Microfiction. Her website is megpokrass.com