KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 5: Spring 2016
Micro-Fiction: 398 words

The Cruelest Month

by Sarah Ann Winn

Fierce. She whispered to herself, imagining Tyra Banks talking about smizing and Miss Jay strutting down the runway. She passed the first house. Only three to go. Fierce. She tried to make a smile flicker at the corner of her eyes, shook out her shoulders, walked tall, subtly shaking her hair so that it would appear to blow in the wind as she walked, so that she would appear larger, the way cats can poof into twice their normal size when threatened, the way dogs bristle to try to fool bigger dogs.

She hated to miss the bus. It wasn’t the six-and-a-half blocks that stood between her house and school, making the distance expand. It was the block of apartments in the middle. Even if she went the long way around, up the hill, past the 7-Eleven, she’d have to cut through strangers’ yards, and down a back alley, and she’d still end up passing alongside her dad’s apartment building instead of in front of it. After snow, it was impossible to skirt the back parking lot to avoid passing under his balcony. She had to go right up next to the railing, and he was out there a lot, smoking, even in the half-snow/half-rain.

She couldn’t avoid him forever. He stopped by yesterday, trying to warm up her mom for some money, or something. She heard him walk in the door, like the place was his, knew it was him from the way he always knocked the pictures on the wall askew, how he bumbled into the living room where her mom slept when it was night, ever since they’d switched where they slept so Jaime could have a quiet place to do homework. He’d tried the knob of her bedroom door, too, before going to check the couch, but she’d breathed as evenly as she could, and when the rattling stopped, she didn’t get up.

Her mom whispered. He shouted, and eventually he left, punching the wall on his way out. The crater in the soft gray she had picked out told her it wasn’t a dream, even though her mom lightly said she must have had the television volume up too high. Even though there were four dark petals blooming just below her mother’s sleeve line.

I’ll show you fierce. She clenched her jaw and softened her lips. Pretty and fierce at the same time.

—Finalist in the KYSO Flash Triple-F Writing Challenge

Sarah Ann Winn’s
Issue 5, Spring 2016

poems, prose, and hybrid works have appeared or are upcoming in Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Massachusetts Review, Passages North, and Quarterly West, among others. Her chapbooks include Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive (forthcoming, Essay Press, 2016), Haunting the Last House on Holland Island (forthcoming, Porkbelly Press, May 2016), and Portage (Sundress Publications, 2015).

She holds an MFA degree from George Mason University and a Master of Library Science degree from Catholic University of America; and is currently a free-range librarian in Manassas, Virginia, where she lives with her husband, two sweet beagle/lab-mix dogs, and one bad cat.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

An Interview with Sarah Ann Winn re Portage in Speaking of Marvels: interviews about chapbooks, novellas, and other shorter forms (13 November 2015)

Carpe Noctem Chapbook Interview with Sarah Ann Winn at (29 September 2015); includes the poem, “I Consider Whether Shipping Your Memory Home Would Be Too Costly”

Sarah Ann Winn on “The Ephemeral Things I Hold Dear” by Laura Madeline Wiseman in The Chapbook Interview (28 September 2015)

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