Issue #88

Fall 2023


by Nicole Brogdon

Gravity and the sun are pulling our bodies forward round this mountain. There's no stepping out of line—though I don't want to advance. Money won't buy anyone a deferral. That's Elon Musk, four places ahead! Some wait with a partner, chatting like they're waiting for salt rations, or milk. A swaddled infant rests nearby on the ground—too soon, in line with the rest of us. Sometimes we forget where we are, we wander off to pick flowers, we run errands. But we end up back here.

Hooded sergeants working for the General keep us straight. These soldiers cradle rifles under their arms, explaining nothing, poking us forward. Prodding our line up along the peak. Don't look at them. At the front of the queue, the General faces our line. He grasps the hands of the lead person, then flings that body high through blue air into oblivion. Our dad left this way years ago, cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Look up! That one looks like Mom—that voice, that raucous hyena laughter cutting through clouds. The too-short jeans. A ceiling fan run amok, skinny limbs outstretched like fan blades. She's pretty, while she leaves. Whoosh! Defying physics, our mother vanishes through a black hole. Back at Mom's cottage, her unfinished books, her seed packets, Monday's vitamin, scattered about on mahogany furniture. Above me now, there's a puncture in the indigo. A straight shot through the atmosphere. No more elders blocking my passage. I trek forward in my old boots.

They serve coffee here—black, like you prefer. And toasted egg sandwiches on good bread. I'll be sorry to leave. And you, waiting near me, with your vanilla scent, your slender arms dangling, you remind me of our mother. That easy laugh. Sister, I'm glad you're here.

Not much time left, the line, inching faster now. Me, ahead of you. I hope it's brilliant, the last view. Expansive, like childhood skies above us, when I reclined in crabgrass long ago, seating you on my flat feet, propelling you up, up. You calling, "Do it again!", me pushing you into the azure blue.

Author Bio


Nicole Brogdon is a trauma therapist in Austin TX, USA, interested in strugglers and stories everywhere. Her flash fiction appears/ will soon appear in Flash Frontier, Bending Genres, 101Words, Bright Flash, Dribble Drabble Review, Centifictionist, and elsewhere.