KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Micro-Fiction: 490 words


by H. P. Armstrong

I can’t go back into the house. It’s my punishment for being unable to get out of bed in the morning—sluggish—oozing like slime out of the covers only to fall back to sleep on the floor with the covers wrapped around my legs. Mom pushes me outside with a single pill and locks the door.

“I can’t remind you all the time,” she says through the screen.

Translated: “Learn how to take care of yourself.”

The pills are purple. They don’t taste purple—one tiny violet pill tastes of chalk. It sits on my tongue, waiting for garden-hose water to flush it down my throat. Dr. Virgil said, “Prescriptions never work quickly.” It takes days. Weeks. Months. But this one grabs a hold of my guts the second it hits stomach acid.

I’m fall-down dizzy and my mouthful of sandpaper tongue makes it difficult to swallow the pill. I cannot skip doses. This one stabs me in the innards, bending me in half like a Barbie doll, and weighs down my eyelids—heavy like steel shutters. Soreness from what feels like days of sleeplessness pushes my eyes out of my face, so I close and rub them with the back of my hands like a child.

I feel like I’m standing on a tightrope, swaying right and left to keep my balance on the whole world. I tumble off the rope, drifting like a feather, but with all the weight of me. My tailbone pushes all my vertebrae up, compacting together, before the pain tells me I fell. Distant, like it happens to someone else.

The sun shines above me, leaving no shadows to hide in, and my eyelids, still closed, feel the brightness glaring through my skin. I lie backward, starfishing in the grass. I don’t understand why I’m not allowed to sleep when I’m so tired. If I sleep, I can’t lash out, but I guess my lowly lows are as bad as my kingly highs. To Mom, anyway. I can feel her eyes through the kitchen window.

When our eyes meet past the glass, her face blurs from oven heat. I can smell fresh baked cookies. The sun cooks me lobster red in my shorts and tank, but I can’t move out of its burning face. I think I will sit up and my eyes might fall out of my face. I hold my hands to my cheeks and the skin burns to the touch. My fingers pinken and sear in open air.

There is an outline of my hands in white shriveled skin, sloughed off into the grass, creasing at my head, life, and heart lines. A dead-body silhouette. Around my legs, more drying skin. I turn back to see hair and the imprint of my face shed on the lawn. Bald, cold, stinging, crying.

“Come back inside,” Mom calls from the screen door. She holds a plate of cookies. Just for me.

H. P. Armstrong
Issue 8, August 2017

was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, but lives in Colorado with his wife and two cats. He is attending Naropa University for education and creative writing.

Publisher’s Note: Armstrong’s writing has been published only once before, in Issue XV of Plains Paradox Literary Arts Journal (Front Range Community College). We’re pleased to be among the first to publish his work, and we look forward to presenting more of his writing in future issues.

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   ⚡