KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Micro-Fiction: 363 words


by Andrew Stancek

Every day since my mother died, I have taken a long walk. Nicole says I must have walked right around the equator by now and she may be right. I have discarded my Fitbit: numbers no longer interest me.

Six of my coworkers have each given me a book on grieving—undoubtedly after a prompt from Dusty: “One of them is bound to help.” I wrote thank-you notes and put the books on top of the dog-eared crossword books in the bathroom wicker basket. The basket is full and I’m sure I have pissed on the three Grollmans next to it but that’s OK. Earl can take it. No doubt it’s therapeutic.

I cleared out her house, kept almost nothing except for the memories. “Don’t want stuff,” I told Nicole. I was about to pitch her boxes of photographs, too, when Nicole swooped in, saying I’d regret it later, and she squirreled them away. I don’t care either way. I see Mother in doorways when I walk in the rain and she waves from the high branches of the poplars. She does not speak.

Nicole has been putting up with me, supporting me, but she’s fraying around the edges. Her voice was soft when she suggested counselling, and she did not flame when I failed to follow through. Every dinner she’s made in the last week has been burnt but I pretend I don’t notice.

She walks by Mother’s cockatoo as if it’s not there and won’t feed it. The feathers are falling out. I sit next to the cage, whistle at Hilda. Hilda has pecked herself into bald patches. I tell her to hand it over to the Higher Power and we both laugh.

Last night I kept up my steady mutter, one foot in front of the other. When a group of drunks poured out of the bar, I looked at my watch, saw 2:17 a.m. I had no idea where I was. Mother nodded from inside the bar. “Keep going,” she said. I have blisters on my feet and I am deathly thirsty but I listen to Mother. The journey itself is the destination. Nicole won’t miss me.

Andrew Stancek
Issue 12, Summer 2019

has work published in Tin House online, Frigg, New World Writing, Green Mountains Review, New Flash Fiction Review, and Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, among others; and in the anthology, Condensed to Flash: World Classics (Vestal Review Press, 2015). He’s been a winner in contests including the Reflex Flash Fiction Competition, New Rivers Press, and Gemini Fiction Magazine. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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