KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 7: Spring 2017
Micro-Fiction: 182 words

Before and After

by J. Bradley

My shadow points at my stomach, giggles at its oblong shape. My shadow crosses its arms when I gnaw on my fingernails, mouths a tsk tsk when it thinks I’ve had too much of anything. My shadow frames my stretch marks with its hands. It shrinks its gut, waist, and thighs to show me what we could look like with enough effort.

I don’t know what made my shadow start cataloging all the things it doesn’t like about my body. I keep the lights as low as I can in my apartment. Everyone is too groggy on my night shift to notice the latest shaving wound on my cheek or neck. I can’t remember the last time my right big toe didn’t hurt.

My shadow always waits until we’re alone to scold me for what I’m becoming. Today, it sees the new wrinkles below my eyes, traces above them with its index finger. My shadow tries pressing its ear against my chest. If I keep this up, I won’t be around much longer, I think, and neither will you.


J. Bradley’s
Issue 7, Spring 2017

writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. His story, “Kyle,” was selected for The Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2016. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words, and served as Interviews Editor of PANK, Flash Fiction Editor of NAP magazine, and Web Editor of Monkeybicycle.

Bradley received his MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009); the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012); the graphic-poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer; the prose-poem chapbook It Is a Wild Swing of a Knife (Choose the Sword Press, 2015); the flash-fiction chapbook No More Stories About the Moon (Lucky Bastard Press, 2016); the novel The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016); and a collection of Yelp-review prose poems, Pick How You Will Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). His flash-fiction chapbook Neil won Five Quarterly’s 2015 e-chapbook contest for fiction.

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