KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
CNF Essay: 578 words

Vincent in Love

by A. M. Thompson

Vincent is in third grade. One tooth is missing, I see, as he hands me his family’s thank you gift for taking in their mail over the summer.

“Can Jessie come play?” he asks.

Our daughter is starting middle school, but from time to time she still plays with him. They duel in our shared front yard with oak branch swords and duct tape scabbards.

Vincent blurts out: “While we were gone, I missed Jessie the whole day long.”

I want to cup Vincent’s love in my hands. Like the bird’s egg we found while gardening last spring.

It had landed, unharmed, in a mound of compost. A jewel-blue blink in the fragrant soil. A hawk spiraled high overhead with empty talons.

The egg was still warm. Jessie cradled it all the way home.

Her father studied her in the rear view mirror.

“You know, honey. It won’t hatch.”

“It might,” she insisted. She didn’t speak for the rest of the trip.

Ben parked carefully. Jessie got out and held up the egg.

“Look,” she said to me softly.

It took a moment to notice the crack. A thready trail of albumin caught the light.

“Oh, baby, I’m sorry,” I said.

Jessie followed us up the walk and into the kitchen. She carefully passed me the egg, then turned to the utensil drawer and dug out a paring knife.

“Put it on its side,” she told me. I set the egg down on the counter. Ben and I exchanged a glance.

With meticulous care, Jessie carved off the top of the shell. With her left hand, she grasped the tiny turquoise disc, her fingers fanning like a Fawn-Tien dancer. With her right hand, she lifted the exposed egg as if it held champagne.

Nobody spoke. She nodded toward the door. We followed her out to the wide front porch. She squatted on the floor boards in a sheen of late-afternoon sun.

Jessie set down the severed tip of the shell. Then slowly, so slowly, she balanced the open egg upright against it. Her fingers hovered briefly.

She paused, before rising silently. She turned to face us.

“Do you have your phone?” Jessie whispered.

I burrowed in a pocket. She waited, nodding slightly.

I handed her the phone. She tapped the screen, flicking through options. She held the phone out toward the egg, aimed the lens, and squinted.

The yolk seemed to pulse as it caught the light: a quivering gleam of orange in broken blue...


“Um... so... can she?” Vincent ventures. I snap out of my reverie.

“Hold on, sweetie.”

I lightly pat his shoulder, turn, and take the steps two at a time up to my daughter’s room. I tap lightly on her door, which is invariably closed these days. It creaks as I open it.

“It’s Vincent,” I say. “They’re back. He really misses you, honey. He wants you to come out and play.”

There is a deep pause. A long sigh. Jessie drags herself up from the Minecraft game she is playing on her iPad.

“Do I have to?” she says. Her tone is serious, not wheedling.

I hesitate, torn between two learning hearts.

“No,” I finally tell her. But let it hang.

“Then... could you tell him I’m busy?” my daughter says.

I feel a searing ache below my sternum. I finally nod. Jessie’s eyes snap back to her computer screen.

I shut the door gently. Then I turn to go downstairs.

A. M. Thompson
Issue 1, Fall 2014

An American poet/writer whose work has been published in Europe (Acumen, The Journal, The North, Lotus Eater, Staple, Vine Leaves) and the U.S. (ARDOR, Blast Furnace, Leopard Seal, Mezzo Cammin, Philosophy After Dark).

Her short story, “Doppler Effect,” (under pen name Hana Mystras) was a finalist for the 2014 Eric Hoffer Award and is included in Best New Writing 2014. Her poem, “Burning Fallow Fields,” won Honorable Mention in the 2014 Robert Frost Foundation poetry contest. She was a featured poet for Tupelo Press’ 30/30 poetry-writing marathon (November 2013), and has poetry in Best of Vine Leaves 2013 and Best of Tupelo Press’ 30/30 (forthcoming, late 2014).

Thompson lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and teenage daughter, where she edits certification exams for the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Two Poems: “The Quickening” and “Burning Fallow Fields” in Mezzo Cammin (Volume 9, Issue 1, Summer 2014)

When We Are No Longer Children, a 480-word vignette at the author’s website, Wellspring

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