KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 9: Spring 2018
Micro-Fiction: 197 words

Gentle Days

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

On one of the nine arches everyone must pass under, Melpomene and Erato are dressed for a dip in Lake Michigan.

There are other, happier arches but their beach has the best suck of waves and excitement is always found in the sand: shipwreck timbers, snakes of rope, punctured beach toys, seagull feathers.

Melpomene directs this tragedy. Ensures that no adult is dressed to rescue children. Hides the flotation devices. Polishes the nail on the undertow. Even the boy’s sister hasn’t realized the riptide has taken him. She fills a washed-up pail with broken shells and beach glass.

The boy’s ghost is disappointed to see how little attention he was paid in real life. Is Mom watching his sister? Why is Dad wearing loafers? Who’s that guy?

Although a ghost chair has been provided for the boy’s comfort so he can watch the moment they hear the news, he does not sit. Their grief will quickly swell into recrimination. Only the lake moves, slaps the shore to make sure there’s a limit.

Melpomene asks Erato if she wrote all that down, but Erato puts her finger to her lips. Another family walks under their arch.


Painting: Gentle Days, by Mary Hatch

Gentle Days
Painting, oil on canvas
Copyright © by Mary Hatch. All rights reserved.

—Reproduced from with artist’s permission


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