Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
about this
how to submit
current issue

Gone Lawn 55
strawberry moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Lost for Words, by Andrea Damic

new works

Travis Flatt


I found an unbroken bird’s egg this morning.
Somehow, it fell through a hole in the Giant Man’s toenail and rolled to my side of the toe in the night.
I scoop up the egg and quickly set it on Mary’s side of the toe, then flee.
Every few days, we hear static-y bits of navigation from an intercom echoing down the leg, reverberating through the ducts and wrecked chambers of the foot. At midnight, the echoes say, the foot will lift off. The Giant Man will take its first step into the ocean and cross the Pacific to see what’s left out west.
Mary and I, then, have two options:
The first is to make peace in the toe, share our hoardings, and drown as lovers—at least allies—reunited at last.
The second is to make a desperate climb for the holes and attempt to swim for it. That would require teamwork. I guess there’s more than two.
We stowed away on the Giant Man when it stomped on Pikes Peak. We ran out of food long before this mud puddle, California, where—according to the echoes—they stopped to refuel on the coast.
To delineate our sides of the toe, we’ve painted a line in excrement from a shit bucket.
At least in the mountain caves we’d shared fires and deer skins, the occasional pit-trapped scavenger. But here, in the cold steel, we eye each other for skin, flesh, bones.
In the first days of the toe, we pushed back through collapsed ductwork and wiring to a knuckle, found a supply closet with buckets and mops, but never made it any deeper.
Here in our toe, we circle and prowl, guarding our crumbs, moths, and spiders, which we ball up—I’ve seen Mary; she’s doing it too; she stole my idea—to store in scraps of cloth torn from our useless, empty packs.
Mary swore I’d stop loving her when she turned to a skeleton. I said, “Nonsense,” and traced her jawline with my finger.
I wouldn’t say I don’t love her. I’d only say she’s hideous.
If I get too close to the shit line, she hisses and bears her scurvy-ruined teeth.
I do the same.
We were certain there’d be rats, or at least roaches, in the toe when we climbed up, but the roaches are too fast. The only rat long dead, popped with bloat, rain-logged, and steams with disease.
I watch Mary poke and study the bird’s egg, wonder if it’s true, if I’m actually offering it?
Somewhere—Boulder, maybe?—I picked up a child’s birthday cake candle and never bothered to eat it, just tucked it in my boot.
“Peace?” I say, my voice an awful, bullfrog thing, unused save for hissing.
Mary sits, holding the brown egg, sniffing it and rolling it in her palms.
She gives a slow nod then pops it in her mouth, shell and all, sucks.
“Wait,” I shout. “Share?”
She spits it, intact and phlegmy, into her fingers.
With the sparks from the rat chewed, dangling wires that I figure once twitched the Giant Man’s toe, I light the birthday candle and we—cautiously—bring our napkin–wrapped crumb balls to meet in the middle, six hours to live, starshine through the holes in the roof of the toe. I clear away several feet of crusty dividing line with one of my wiping rags.
“Appetizer,” I say, and touching her for the first time in weeks, tilt her head back and split the egg with my thumbs to let the yolk slide into her waiting mouth.
She allows me to kiss the syrupy goo off the corner of her scab blackened lips.
We compare crumb balls, or “crumblings” she tells me she’s named them, which are tangerine sized dumplings, made of about everything—bread, jerky, paper, pests—all mushed together with sweat and dirt.
“Taste mine,” I say, pinching a bit off of my crumbling. “If you try, it tastes like a baguette with cheese.”
She gives me a gap toothed grin. “What kind of cheese?”
“Any. Your favorite,” I say, and rub my fingers to crumble the morsel onto her yellow tongue.
She closes her eyes. “Parmesan. No, feta. No, brie.” Behind their lids, her eyes roll with pleasure.
I risk asking to try a bit of hers?
In a moment, we could turn on eachother, nails digging, teeth ripping.
Before the floods and fires, when we were hand-holding newlywed children, she never shared her desserts, which always made me pouty-angry. But, I grew up rich, had never gone to bed hungry, hadn’t had two brothers steal my candy bars or a mother “eeny-meeny-miney-mo” me for Easter treats.
She pinches and sprinkles a bit of her crumbling onto my tongue and asks what I think?
It tastes like sand, spit, and blood-salt.
I say, “Cinnamon toast.”

Travis Flatt (he/him) is an epileptic teacher and actor living in Cookeville, Tennessee. His stories appear or are forthcoming in Tiny Molecules, Flash Frog, JMWW, HAD and other places. He is a Best Small Fictions nominee. He enjoys theater, dogs, and theatrical dogs. When possible, he enjoys these with his wife and son. Tweet him at @WriterLeeFlatt.