Taken

flash fiction, pastel sketch & photo by Elizabeth

TAKEN

I’m haunted that it happened here. Thought this was a safe community. Yet Tammy took that woman’s diamonds, clothes, and almost took her life. She starved that poor woman under the guise of helping a shut-in. Tami helped herself instead. 

Never met the woman even though she lived across the street. Didn’t even know she was there for the longest time. Nice home but I thought it was deserted—blinds drawn, never saw anyone go in or out. That is till after I heard Tammy tell a neighbor, “…poor thing…broke her hip…no, no children…needs help.” After that I saw Tammy walking a runt of a dog that trembled and skittered as she drug it down the street till it did its business then half-choked itself lunging against the leash toward home. I’d see Tammy go in around dusk and leave not much after with bags in each hand and always two more tucked under her arms. 

I’m embarrassed I didn’t think about it till the deputy asked if I’d seen anything unusual. This was right after the woman’s son came. Apparently she did have a child and he fired Tammy and packed what he could in this tiny trailer hitched to his cigar box of a car. The deputy asked what I’d seen—wanted to know how often Tammy was there, if I’d noticed her wearing fancy jewelry, or how much weight my neighbor had lost the past few months. But all I’d seen was brown bags and that scaredy-dog and how skeletal that woman looked in her boy’s arms when he carried her to his car.

Thank you to the editor of Doorknobs & Body Paint for first publishing this piece.

America

photo by Elizabeth
AMERICA

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand. 


Claude McKay, 1921 

Shenandoah Literary



Fallen

FALLEN

          Born six weeks early, I’d oozed out on one of Biloxi’s sweltering moldy nights as Mom screamed Screw this fucking kid, just give me the goddamn cigarette! 
          Having clamped and cut my cord, the doctor pushed back on his rolling stool and handed me to a nurse who shoved me in an incubator. 
          I should have fallen like refuse from a plane, fallen into that purgatory called adoption, called foster care, fallen anywhere but back to her, yet by chance I was her last pawn against Dad, a pawn she continued jabbing even after stealing every piece she could from him, even after he’d conceded that he’d ruined her figure, her reputation, her life, and long after he’d introduced this movie star wanna-be to his family who’d just lost their land. Land that had survived the Civil War and Great Depression fell through their pale fingers like cigar ash flicked by shrewd brokers who’d leapt through Wall Streets’ fiery loopholes with the surrealistic aplomb of circus bareback riders. 
          Now even their future was lost to a daughter-in-law who was so goddamn crazy she’d laugh like a barking clown every time she told me this story.

Thank you to the editors of Doorknobs and BodyPaint for first publishing this piece.