Larena Nellies-Ortiz is a photographer and arts educator who lives in Los Angeles, California where she loves to color, texture, and shadow hunt in the early morning hours. Her photos are featured or forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Burningword Literary Journal, Local Wolves Magazine, Stonecoast Review, 3Elements Review, and Sun Magazine.
I’m up my favorite tree in our woods and I get to see what squirrels see, then Dad walks into his man cave right underneath with that neighbor lady who brought that board with butter and stuff smeared on it to the block party and she says he’s handy and then she makes noises like she’s running on hot sand and he shushes her and then he says Oh, God, Oh, God and I wonder was that in vain, then she says Oh, God, it’s already six-o-clock and she rushes out then he leaves, and at dinner Mom asks Dad why wasn’t he home early because when she tried to call he didn’t pick up and she called his assistant and they said he already left, and Dad says my assistant can’t keep track of anyone she watches those flash mobs all day and he yells you don’t know how hard I’m working and Mom cries, and my cousin said that’s what my aunt and uncle did before they got divorced they yelled but the main thing is my Dad lied, and when my cousin kept asking my aunt why did she get a divorce from my uncle my aunt kept saying we both love you very much and it’s not your fault, but finally my aunt told my cousin, he lied, that’s why, your Dad lied.
Michelle Morouse is a Detroit area pediatrician. Her flash fiction and poetry has appeared recently, or is forthcoming, in Midwest Review, Prose Online, Best Microfiction 2022, Touchstone Literary Magazine, Faultline Journal of Arts and Letters, Litro, Unbroken, and Paterson Literary Review. She serves on the board of Detroit Working Writers.
The grey trout flops on the ice and stills, its blood clotted. Dave holds the rigid fish trophy-high, and I snap a photo to prove our lives are as full as the trout’s thick belly. The fish’s mouth gapes, its body wall-mounted stiff.
It’s late, this fishing. This casting into the dark maw of lake with spider-web lines that glisten in the lowering sun. I stamp the membrane of ice, knowing we forged a two-foot hole with the hand auger, yet wonder if it’s strong enough to hold us. My silhouette stretches across the surface, strange and taffy-pulled. I raise my shadow hand; I’m still here.
Frozen fish stuffed into our bag, we mount the snowmobile and fly past gnarled scrub brush teetering on the edge of the timberline. Cold bites my jutted kneecaps. I want to release my arms hooked around Dave’s waist and soar into the darkening expanse, but instead, I brace harder and close my eyes. I am a plane, a roller coaster, a train barrelling south.
The moon is a silver-scaled bowl, the sky brilliant black. Dave cuts the engine at the cabin, our silence heavier than the snow. Northern Lights peek around a ring of clouds and trawl across the sky in purple, green, and yellow tendrils.
Inside, the woodstove spears heat into each corner. Knife poised beneath a gill, he guts each fish and drops the rubbery heads into a bucket, a hollow sound, and I wonder if that’s the sound of falling out of love, not sharp and sudden, but quiet. Slow. The row of headless trout fans across layers of outdated Northern Times; warmed blood blurs the newsprint. I press my thumb to the warmth and edge the paper in a line of fading whorls, like roses, until they vanish.
Dawn Miller’s most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fractured Lit, Typehouse, Jellyfish Review, Guernica Edition’s This Will Only Take a Minute anthology, and The Maine Review, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives and writes in Picton, Ontario, Canada. Connect at www.dawnmillerwriter.com and on Twitter @DawnFMiller1
Issue 105, published January 2023, features works of poetry, flash fiction, short nonfiction, and photography by L. Ward Abel, Evan Anders, Nancy Connors, Diana Dinverno, Melissa Goodnight, Carol Hamilton, Ditta Baron Hoeber, Tess Kelly, Robert Knox , Bernard Knudsen, Kathy Kremins, Clare Marsh, Mary McGinnis, Dawn Miller, Michelle Morouse, Larena Nellies-Ortiz, Lorrie Ness, Robert Nisbet, John Perrault, Patrick T. Reardon, Lisa Rua-Ware, Michael Salcman, Rich Spang, Joshua St. Claire, Eugene Stevenson, Pamela Wax, Ann Weil, and Evan Morgan Williams.
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