KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Flash Fiction: 627 words

Vanished From Sight

by Glenn G. Coats

Millie lines her wagon with a shower curtain, one decorated with scallop shells and fish. She tucks in the corners, pulls it under a pump, and fills it close to the top with well water. Her grandmother hurries out of the house as if hawks are after her chickens. “No rain all summer and you give the wagon a drink,” she scolds.

Grandma’s eyes follow as the child tugs her wagon down the sandy lane. Millie knows her grandmother’s arms are folded, her face twisted into a frown. The girl will not look back.

The village is covered with haze—steaming like paella in a pan. Pablo sees her first and comes running from his yard. “Where are you going, Millie?” he asks. “Where are you taking the wagon of water?”

Millie smiles and squints at the same time. She continues to pull her wagon slowly so water does not rush over the sides. “I save the fish,” she answers and continues on her way.

Francesca presses her back flat against the doorway; one leg is bent like an egret. Millie can see through her dress that is thin as a butterfly net. “Pull the wagon closer,” she says. “Let me cool the bottoms of my feet.” The girl does not stop.

The barber sweeps hair out of his shop and onto the street. Miguel leans for a moment on his broom as Millie passes slowly by. “Will you sprinkle Barriga with water from your wagon?” he asks. “Will you bring us rain?” Millie smiles at the man who remembers her father. “I go to catch fish,” she answers. “They will die soon.” Miguel sends a prayer along for her journey.

The last shop in Barriga looks like a house. Mariano sits behind a glass counter and sells magazines and newspapers. She sees the child through the screen door and rushes outside. Millie’s face is flushed; she wears a mustache of beads of sweat. “Leave your wagon by the doorstep,” Mariano says. “Come inside and rest.” She wipes the child’s face dry and gives her something cool to drink, stays by her side until Millie is ready to go on her way.

Millie pulls her wagon down a skinny road. The black asphalt is rough with shells and blond stones. Her father had taken her down this pathway to the shoreline of Black Lake. He baited hooks with a paste of flour and water. They pulled orange and white fish from water the color of cedar. Her father held them up to the light then gently tossed them back. “They are too pretty to eat,” her father said. Millie tries to remember her father’s face—the sound of his voice.

She pulls her wagon to the shore where sand is dry as bone. The lake bottom is cracked like an old belt; a few pools dot the surface. Millie touches her lips to water in her wagon and sips quickly like an insect, then drags the wagon close to a small pool. She kneels down and reaches in, waits, then closes her fingers around the first fish and quickly transfers it into her wagon. Millie scoops eight fish and there is room for no more. The rest will stay behind as the lake disappears.

It is evening when the child pulls her wagon back through the streets of Barriga. There is a breeze in the air. People stop to look as if Millie is pulling a new baby through the village. “Lovely fish,” they say. The girl is thinking about what they will need, a ladle of fresh water every day, bugs and spiders, crumbs from dry bread. She will feed them like birds and keep them alive long enough for rains to return.


Glenn G. Coats
Issue 10, Fall 2018

lives with his wife, Joan, in Carolina Shores, North Carolina, where they enjoy exploring the nearby waterways. His poetry collection about children who struggle with reading and writing, Trying to Move Mountains, was published by the Reading Recovery Council of North America. His writing has been nominated three times for the Pushcart and has been published in a number of magazines and journals including: Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, The Heron’s Nest, Acorn, and Frogpond, among others. Glenn is the author of three haibun collections: most recently, Waking and Dream (Red Moon Press); and from Pineola Press, Snow on the Lake and Beyond the Muted Trees. In addition to writing, he enjoys playing guitar with his children as well as in the band Chicken Bog.

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