KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Micro-Fiction: 370 words

The Price Is Right

by Meg Pokrass

He was tired and uncomfortable, leaning back with goldfish eyelids, radiation heartburn. The world was a mouthful, he said, and burped. It was already time to set the clocks back, which made her feel edgy.

She slid off her shoes. Like him, she was used to taking long nights in doses, pampering her feet. In the newspaper it said that Thursday night at Arnie’s, free, home grown new potatoes. “Summer is coming,” the ad said. “Root on!!”

“Those fingerlings, the purple ones, those were your favorites,” she pointed the ad out to him. When had they stopped craving real food? Everything came in a carton or can.

Certain ideas of his had been absent for so long, she pretended it didn’t worry her. She spun around a few times, right there in the living room in her fox-patterned house-dress. She could remember dance steps. But their floor was old, their walls looked like mint-colored stomach medicine. The dog had been dead for two decades.

“I used to love Sloe gin, Harry,” she said.

“My God, Emma. What about this belly here?” he said, as if that should explain things.

“At least it’s not asymmetrical,” she said, with an exaggerated wink.

Her cousin’s husband had it worse, not just the belly, a lopsided pot belly, made him wobble like a drunk. This was how he died. Fell over like a pregnant cow in the snow. Thirty years younger tonight, Harry would be sneaking over to her without underwear.

Harry shuffled to the bathroom, looking for something to dab on his skin. He asked himself why bother, but he looked around anyway. She used to love his aftershave. But he stopped wearing it. That was the year Bob Barker made her laugh so hard she looked just like a girl. He’d never been so jealous. She was nearly fifty-five then, but she blushed so hard it knocked him over. He couldn’t imagine. The edge to her giggles, chirping to the TV, standing there in her slippers.

At night, under the covers, he still tries to compete. Tells her “the price is right.”

“It’s not so funny anymore, Harry,” she says. And he knows this. And it stops him.


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