I wake up some mornings to the bad-dream feeling of Bob messing around with another woman. Bob gunning after some athletic, confident woman— like the stewardesses who talk about ocean landings and how to survive by calmly inflating a raft.
In the morning, I’ll put on a sweater.
“Bob, did you hear me call out? I had one of those performance anxiety dreams again.”
Bob says nothing.
“Buck up, Duck,” I whisper.
I am trying to get in shape. My chin bobbles above my neck, so I can feel it is time to try eating lean meats again, cutting down on toxicity.
Speed-walking around the lake, I imagine having sex with Colin Firth. I do this to feel if there is anything left.
The sky is punctuated with angry clouds and the wind is high—a shitty day to get healthy. About half-way around the lake, I notice something alive, over on the grass. It appears to be a crawdad, but there are no such creatures in this neck of our woods.
A feeling comes over me that I must help it find its way back to the lake before something kills it— so I bend and pick it up, using my sweatshirt so it won’t bite or pinch me.
When I touch it, it shoots a twiggy leg into the air, as if calling a truce.
Back home, Bob is opening a new bottle of codeine cough syrup.
“You make it all the way around?” he asks.
His prostate is pushing against his coccyx, so he can’t sit. Instead, he lays on the sofa, skinny white feet dangling off one end.
I tell him about the crawdad, and Bob is studying his slippers.
“It couldn’t be one of those. There are none here.”
I don’t say anything else.
Outside on our easy-care grass, I root myself down inside a puddle of sun.
Meg Pokrass is the author of four collections of flash fiction, and one award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas, which received the Blue Light Book Award in 2016. Her writing has been widely anthologized, most recently in Best Small Fictions 2018, edited by Aimee Bender (Braddock Avenue Books), 2 Norton Anthologies of flash fiction: Flash Fiction International and New Micro-Exceptionally Short Fiction, Flash Non-Fiction Funny edited by Dinty Moore (Woodhall Press, 2018), Nothing Short of 100 (Outpost 19, 2018), and her stories have been selected for Wigleaf ‘s Top 50’s list numerous times. A new full flash fiction collection, Alligators At Night will be released in the summer of 2018 by Ad Hoc Press.