KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 9: Spring 2018
Micro-Fiction: 250 words [R]


by Francine Witte

and the famine coming to a close. Thousands gone from potato death and the dumb, aimless wind wafting blight spores like music.

I was a girl, 16, watching from the window. My father, a human horseshoe bent over the crop. There had been nothing for days, and the last meal I shared was with Seamus Logan, 50 and breathstinking, fingers like old prunes. He ran the tailoring shop in town, and his wife had died mysterious. He’d let me come over for great meals of bacon and hunks of bread. His kisses were watery and foul, and I was trying my best to stay away.

I looked at my mother by the unlit, vacant stove. My brother, a tiny baby pulling at her teat. She stuck her thumb into his mouth as they rocked and rocked. How happy we’d be to all of us eat again.

My father came in, a basket of potatoes in his tan, ropey arms. “For me, and your mother,” he said. “She’s got to make milk for my only son.”

My mistake was being a girl. Farm useless. I sat there, starving as they ate. Later, when they slept, I ran off for good to Seamus Logan.

Days went by, and Seamus told me my family was dead from the Cholera. “Blighted potatoes,” he said. “The rot can sleep unseen for days.”

And this was the start of the rest of my life. My future containing a given harvest of lovehunger and almost regret.


—Published previously in Doorknobs & BodyPaint as Flash Fiction Winner for August 2008 (Issue 51); appears here with author’s permission


Francine Witte’s
Issue 9, Spring 2018

full-length poetry collection Café Crazy has just been published by Kelsay Books (December 2017). She is also the author of the poetry chapbooks Only, Not Only (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and First Rain (Pecan Grove Press, 2009), winner of the Pecan Grove Press competition; and the flash fiction chapbooks Cold June (Ropewalk Press), selected by Robert Olen Butler as the winner of the 2010 Thomas A. Wilhelmus Award, and The Wind Twirls Everything (MuscleHead Press). Her poetry chapbook Not All Fires Burn the Same won the 2016 Slipstream chapbook contest.

A former high school teacher, Witte lives in New York City.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

An Interview with Francine Witte by poet and writer Arya-Francesca Jenkins in her blog WritersnReadersII (20 October 2017)

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