A breeze rustles through the trees, birds call, and our dogs whine. Some days you are silent, closed off as if your show is over, the curtain lowered. But most days, like today, you are your old self. You unhook Dyngus and Crabbie from their leashes and the two of us watch them gallop through the tall grass.
We’re in a Western, my brother and I, on a dusty main street set. Sergio Leone sits in the director’s chair. Morricone has written the score. There is the clang of cow bells, the shouts of hustlers on horseback. We face each other, hands twitching over our holsters. My brother approaches, and as he does, his arms and legs begin to break off like kindling. I am standing over his torso. Leone shouts, “Cut.”
I am wearing a backless polka-dot sundress. You, a linen suit in cream. My skirt flounces around my calves. I have no idea how beautiful I am, though you tell me, over and over. We will wed in Vegas. Neither set of parents believes we will last.
My grandmother tells me she too likes to write stories. Library books, stacked like bricks on her nightstand, form a tower higher than me. It’s where she goes to escape my grandfather.
My brother dies a young man. Every year on his birthday, I decorate his gravestone with honeysuckle blossoms and a bottle of Maker’s Mark.
You no longer remember the dogs’ names and some days you don’t remember mine. I show you photographs. See that lovely couple? See that handsome fella in his summer suit? The neurologist has you copy a triangle and you draw a line. He asks you to name the President of the United States. You say, “Pot roast.”
Kathy Fish teaches fiction for the Mile High MFA program at Regis University as well as her own intensive Fast Flash workshops online. She has published four collections of short fiction: a chapbook in the Rose Metal Press collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008); Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011); Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012); and Rift, co-authored with Robert Vaughan (Unknown Press, 2015). Her story, “Strong Tongue,” was recently chosen by Amy Hempel for Best Small Fictions 2017 (Braddock Avenue Books).