KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Micro-Fiction: 443 words

Carried and Missed

by Janey Skinner

She nailed her thighs to the back seat of the taxi and clenched them tight together. Her rib cage curved over her lap, as if its feeble bars could hold in the thin cells of life that had already slipped through. Anton’s arm across her shoulders felt like a yoke, obliging her to the heavy work of moving on. He had never held their child the way she had, in her body, in the cradle of her pelvis. He could not mourn this baby, this five-month fetus, the way she did.

Her fingertips pressed crescents into her palms as she raked over the last two days. The previous morning a red-brown dot had appeared on the cottony rectangle of her underwear, the thin bridge of fabric between two empty holes. She could not stop thinking of that spot and the false sense of assurance she got when the toilet paper showed no blood. She had gone about her day normally. She had carried groceries upstairs. She had run to catch the bus. Now each memory accused her, each action a murder.

Anton whispered into her hair, “We’ll try again. Soon as you can, we’ll try again.”

Even the smell of him—coffee, hair gel, nervous sweat—was too much for her. Her thighs gripped one another like sisters. She still felt the impression of those firm gloved fingers forcing apart her legs, placing them in stirrups. The cold metal speculum was a gurney rolling into a morgue.

In the last two years, lovemaking had become a thing of the calendar and the thermometer. At first they made a game of it. Anton would tease her, “Doctor’s orders!” But after so much trying, her anxiety made sex yet another task she wasn’t very good at, another sign of her inability to be a proper wife. To be a proper woman. There was nothing wrong with Anton, their doctor had said so. Obviously there was something on the inside wrong with her.

She stared at her untied white sneakers, so small and dirty against the charcoal carpeting of the taxi floor. He could try again. The woman who dialed their phone and hung up often would tell him that. Even now, as he made those snuffling sounds meant to reassure her, she could see him holding another woman’s baby.

Her hands circled the cavern of her belly, caressing the little girl who was no longer there. They were going to name her Maria Yvette, for her two grandmothers. Little bump, little bear, flea bite, midge. So many endearments for this much-wanted baby. None of them enough to keep either of them going.

Janey Skinner
Issue 6, Fall 2016

is a writer and community college teacher living in Northern California. Her story “Carnivores,” first published in KYSO Flash, was among 45 works selected by Stuart Dybek for The Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press). She is currently working on a novel. She attended LitCamp, San Francisco’s juried writers conference, in 2013 and 2014, as well as the juried Napa Valley Writers Conference in 2011. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Brown University.

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