KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Micro-Fiction: 323 words

Swimming in Circles

by Roberta Beary

On the way to the morgue I pull over on the highway. The radio announcer is talking about this whale swimming with her dead calf. Whenever the calf slips off, the whale grabs it with her mouth, tosses it in the air and catches it on her nose. “Shut that stupid crap off,” Becca says, “I need to see Rob’s car. I need to see what happened.” The VW is squeezed in half, like an accordion. We peer inside. A rose is holding up what’s left of the windshield. Becca reaches out her hand. “Careful,” I say, “there’s a lot of broken glass in there.” Becca shakes the petals into my pink handkerchief. She got one too, green to match her eyes Mom said. That was 40 years ago.

The round clock in the morgue waiting room reads 3PM. I open my purse and see the handkerchief. I unfold it and count six red petals. “Hold onto those for me,” Becca says, “I can’t look at them right now.” A woman comes over and takes Becca’s arm. When Becca comes back she says, “His hair smelled so clean. Like he just washed it.” I picture cool, white cotton sheets waiting for me in my hotel room.

In the hotel bar, Becca orders a double vodka. She gives me and the bartender the long version. How Rob took a shower before he left around midnight. How the cops woke her at 4AM, banging on her front door and flashing their lights. While she’s talking I picture the whale tossing her dead calf up in the air. Catching it on her nose. Swimming in circles. “I keep thinking he’s going to call me,” Becca says, checking her phone. The bartender gives me a look and I ask for the check. Digging in my purse for my credit card, I see the handkerchief. It will be years before I throw away the petals.


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