KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Micro-Fiction: 427 words

Advice and Consent

by Bruce Holland Rogers

I towel-dry my hair and start to comb it. My mother appears on my shoulder, six inches tall. She holds onto my ear to keep from falling. “Use the blow dryer,” she says. “I don’t want you going out with a wet head.” I don’t have time for the dryer.

In the kitchen, I pour myself a bowl of cereal. The mother on my right shoulder is still saying that I should dry my hair better, and now there’s a mother on my left shoulder saying, “That’s it? That’s all you’re having?”

I’m out of milk. I pour half-and-half on the cereal. A third mother, hanging from my shirt collar, waves her hand up at my face to get my attention. “Your father’s brother keeled over dead at forty-eight from blocked arteries!”

At the door, I put on my jacket and collect yet another mother who says, “At least take a hat!” But if I put a hat on now, my hair will finish drying funny.

I start toward the bus stop and check my watch. I don’t want to be late to work again this week. The new office manager has a fetish for being on time. I already hate her. A mother hanging from my jacket says, “If only you had gone to A&M. You’d be a big boss now.”

“No,” I say. “I’d be a suicidal engineer.”

How many mothers do I have so far this morning? Six? Seven? They weigh what a butterfly weighs, but they are plenty loud. “You should have had a real breakfast.” “You’re going to catch a cold.” “You could have a graduate degree by now.” I almost don’t hear the one who says, “Look both ways,” but it’s a one-way street.

Wham! I’m lying on the ground. I have littered the asphalt with mothers. They aren’t getting up. I start to recognize the sensation in my back as pain. My knee hurts, too. I realize that I’m in a bike lane. The woman standing over me with her bicycle had just run into me. My fault. The bike lane goes both ways.

My mothers collect themselves as I get up. There’s no keeping them down. I feel them settling into their places again. One of them reminds me, “What do you say?”

“I’m sorry,” I tell the rider. She’s about my age. Pretty. Half a dozen miniature middle-aged women peer at me from the basket of her bike.

“Are you all right?” asks the rider.

“Well,” chorus my mothers. “She seems like a nice girl!”

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