KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Micro-Fiction: 430 words

Our Own Slice of Sky

by Roberta Beary
 

The pavement is melting from the heat. This is beach weather, crazy hot and way too early for May. I should have taken a cab. But that would’ve meant having a plan. Easier to walk and decide on the way, even though the pavement has turned to black licorice that clings to my flip-flops. I stop, grab a tissue from my purse, and wipe up the mess on my toes. I could do with a shower. I’m on a mission for a new shower curtain, the billowy cotton kind. We had the other kind in my house. An ugly plastic blue. She said it was our own slice of sky, in the bathroom.

Once, I was soaping up, trying to keep that blue plastic sheet from sticking to me. Put your arm out, she yelled. I could smell the booze. Look how hairy your arm is, you must’ve gotten that from your good-for-nothing father. Look how much nicer my arm is. I tried to push her off but she wouldn’t let go. Not until I agreed with her. A few days after that she came in again when I was drying my hair. I was still in my towel. This time it was my legs. She wanted to see whose calves were fatter. Mine won.

Even though I live by myself I like things neat and tidy. I’ve had therapy so I know why. My therapist said my boundaries were violated. And he taught me coping skills, like limiting phone calls to 10 minutes. Or saying, Now’s not a good time, and hanging up. I never told him how hard that it would be to actually do them. Easier to just stop talking about it.

I’ve walked all the way to Dan’s Discount, close to where my mom and I lived. The soles of my flip-flops are streaked with tar and I’’m all out of tissues. I’m at the shower curtains when I hear her voice. Coming from the front near the registers. She’s telling some salesclerk about her daughter. Who won’t see her. Won’t take her phone calls. I pass a mirror. See fat, hairy arms holding a shower curtain. Entombed in plastic. My body slows down, and her voice sounds far away, like I’m under water. When I get to the register I look around. But the voice has changed. Into someone else’s mother. As I wait for my turn, I think about visiting the grave before I get home. It would be a nice thing to do. For Mother’s Day.

 

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