“I like to stand alone in the gloom of my own empty field,” he said. He was a psychiatrist with sad office hours. He wore psychedelic, zig-zaggy t-shirts. He belonged to the Hallucinogenic Society. Every one of his patients had a terminal condition. This was his specialty. Treating cancer patients in the final stages. Clients who wanted one last shot at understanding themselves.
Because of his untraditional approach, and his own depression, he shared their marijuana edibles. Brought them home from work, too. Pot cross buns, pot-stickers, brownies. I’d arrive in his luxury apartment, the nest he leased for himself after his separation.
“She says I’m empathy-exhausted,” he said.
“Sounds like a sane conclusion to me,” I said.
It was always salad time when I got there. We’d hunker down in his judgement-free, sunken living room and enjoy arugula with pot-laced sun-dried tomatoes.
His picture window overlooked Lake Meritt, which was no longer dangerous. Men with 1890s beards walking dogs with pork-pie caps. Women with tattooed scalp areas. Innovative-looking scooters.
The psychiatrist and I would sit there watching the water sparkle from above. “I like this nest of yours,” I’d say, which was true. It suited him. Sometimes he’d cry a bit, his dripping balding head in my lap. “I won’t be able to afford this place after the divorce.” I’d stroke what was left of his hair, wondering if he planned to have it replaced.
is the author of five collections of flash fiction, a novella-in-flash from Rose Metal Press, and an award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas (2014 Blue Light Poetry Prize). Forthcoming books include a novella-in-flash, The Smell of Good Luck (to be published in 2019 by Flash: The International Short Short Story Press), and a collection of microfiction, The Sadness of Night Bugs (Pelekinesis Press).
Her writing has been widely anthologized, most recently in The Best Small Fictions 2018, edited by Aimee Bender (Braddock Avenue Books); in two Norton anthologies of flash fiction, Flash Fiction International (2015) and New Micro (2018); and in Nothing Short Of 100, Flash Non-Fiction Funny, and Flash Fiction Funny. Her work has appeared in 350 literary magazines, both online and in print, including Electric Literature, Tin House, McSweeney’s, Five Points, Smokelong Quarterly, and Tupelo Review.
Meg is the Founding/Managing Editor of New Flash Fiction Review and currently serves as Flash Challenge Editor at Mslexia Magazine, Festival Curator for Flash Fiction Festival UK, and Co-Editor of Best Microfiction. She also teaches ongoing flash-fiction workshops, both online and in person, in the U.K. and Ireland. Find out more about her teaching at: http://megpokrass.com/.
Follow Meg on Twitter: [at]megpokrass