KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Micro-Fiction: 177 words

A Version of the Story in Which
the Five-Year-Old Actually Speaks Up

by Joanna White

At the fifth chime, her parents rose from her bedside, visiting hour over in the hospital on the hill. You can’t leave me here, she said, and so they stayed. And what was it she had said the day before when they wheeled her back to her room after surgery and she threw up, knotting her hair? To her parents, I mean, before they walked out, their furrowed foreheads like parched earth. You did not warn me what would happen in there on the table under the lights, and then they were sorry and her mother held her hand while the nurse changed the sheets. And the mask, I thought you meant there would be a clown, and she was never afraid of clowns after that. They wanted to hear about the scary things in there so she told them all about it. In this version of the story she did not say to them (fifty years later, when her own child was in the hospital and they did not call), What the hell is wrong with you?

—From the author’s forthcoming book, Drumskin and Bones (Salmon Poetry, March 2021)

Joanna White
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is a music professor whose writing appears in The Examined Life Journal, Healing Muse, MacGuffin, Measure, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Dunes Review, Cherry Tree, the KYSO Flash Anthology (Volume 2, 2015), and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), among others. Her first poetry collection, Drumskin and Bones, has been accepted for March 2021 publication.

Author’s website:

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