After I was assaulted, I spent the night at my mother’s house. She asked me what I wanted for dinner. I know this because that is what she said to me, what do you fancy? She said she made some dangerous chili, that was her mistake. I told her that it would be fine for me. I sat in two of her sturdy chairs. Both of them hurt. I stood up and looked outside at the teenage girls smiling at me from across the street. Be safe, I thought. My mother was telling me about a mystical friend named Sonja, a beautiful woman, she said, a fortune teller. At least you’re okay, she said. I was trying very hard to listen to her story about being vaguely in love with the woman. I remembered how she had once admitted she was bisexual as if she were telling me what a perfect mother she really was. This was after Dad left, around the time that my breasts grew in, before I ran away. Don’t tell me this kind of stuff, I said. Act like a parent, if you don’t mind. At the time, I remember how I felt about my body, watching it bloom from above. I resembled the kind of girl a father would be proud of. My mother was depressed during that time.

Today, she cries only because I’m safe. She says she’s making plenty more food in the kitchen. I curl up on my mother’s floor, imagine a switchblade in my hand. Would I have used it on him, would he have turned it back on me? I say, sorry about Dad. I look at her and try not to bleed on her rug. When she pulls me up, my mind is a diamond, hard and brilliant— a thing she can finally understand. I try to breathe. You have to get treated she says. I love you. I let her hold me, let her extinguish my hair.

***

Meg Pokrass’ fifth collection, ‘Alligators At Night’, was published by Ad Hoc Fiction (2018). Her work has been anthologized in Best Small Fictions, 2018 (edited by Aimee Bender) and two Norton Anthologies; New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018) and Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015). Meg is the Founding Co-Editor of Best Microfiction, Editor-in-Chief of New Flash Fiction Review, and Festival Curator for Flash Fiction Festival, UK and recently became the Flash Fiction Focus Editor for Mslexia Magazine.