KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 5: Spring 2016
Micro-Fiction: 497 words

Ladies Night

by Tara Laskowski

Mellie is on stage singing off-key to “Homewrecker” and we’re cheering her on because she just left her douchebag husband and needs to pretend she’s in a Sex and the City episode. We’re a cliché, three nearing-40 broads with harsh highlights and control-top pantyhose slurping shitty pina coladas out of clear plastic cups.

Mellie, Molly, and Meredith. “M to the third,” my father used to call us when we were in high school and played stupid games about the kinds of weddings we would have. That was before Molly took the overdose, before I got the diagnosis that led to radiation, before Mellie came home to find her husband bending the next-door neighbor over the washing machine.

Mellie’s song attracted a guy with spiky hair, who’s standing with us by the bar hut hut-ing to everything she says. It’s the kind of place that country singers sing about. There’s a fat man at the bar leaning into his iPhone, barbecue sauce staining his Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt. An older couple country line dancing. In the back, a bachelorette party occupies the long table, and the bride-to-be stands on her chair trying to look fierce while sipping lite beer out of a penis-shaped straw.

Who am I to judge? I’m a fool smoking a cigarette for the first time in forever, trying too hard to hide the belly roll. A fool wishing I was home putting Max to bed, tucked under his airplane comforter, humidifier humming, watching the solar system sway above us as he holds my index finger with his whole fist and falls asleep.

Instead we’re ordering a round of Red Bull and vodka because you don’t fuck with M to the Third. Because Mellie once punched a guy for calling Molly a walrus cunt and because both of them listened to me cry after the miscarriage.

Mellie’s telling Spiky how she can knot a cherry stem with her tongue. “My ex-husband,” she tosses around like a handful of peanuts the dude should catch in his mouth. They have only been separated for two weeks, but she’s practicing. “Buy me a drink and I’ll show you,” she says in her skintight red and black dress, but there’s a flicker of something on her face when she turns away. Molly and I move in, circling. We’ll pull out the tentacles, the switchblades, if we need to.

But Spiky gets sucked up in the bar tidal wave. We find ourselves alone in the bright bathroom. Molly’s mascara is smeared and she’s fixing it. Mellie is stomping at a cockroach scampering across the tile. “What, what, motherfucker,” she’s screaming. For a second, I think she’s going to cry. But then she gets the roach with her heel and it makes a satisfying crack like those little exploding bags we used to throw on the sidewalk on the Fourth of July. When the whole world smelled like sulfur. When all you wanted to see was fire in the sky.

—First-Place Winner in the KYSO Flash Triple-F Writing Challenge

Tara Laskowski
Issue 5, Spring 2016

is the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons (Matter Press, 2012) and the forthcoming Bystanders (Santa Fe Writers Project 2016). Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. She was awarded the Kathy Fish Fellowship from SmokeLong Quarterly in 2009, and won the grand prize for the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Series. Since 2010, she has been the editor of SmokeLong Quarterly.

Tara grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania and now navigates traffic in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. She and her husband, writer Art Taylor, write the column Long Story Short at the Washington Independent Review of Books. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Agnes Flood, 1972: When the Dike Broke, 409-word micro-fiction in Wigleaf (01 October 2015)

Ode to the Double-Crossed Lackey in Thunderball, 421-word micro-fiction Barrelhouse (2015, issue-less story archives)

“One of My Favorite Things is When We Are a First Publication for a Writer.” A Chat With Tara Laskowski of Smokelong Quarterly by Christine Junge in The Review Review

Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡