In the low-light of morning, Mildred eases, teardrop, out of bed. She hasn’t been much for sleeping, but last night was different, what with Harry visiting in a dream.
Everyone warned her. How death perfects a person. Her mother, pinching her arm at the funeral. “Look around,” her mother whispered. “How many of his women are here?”
Mildred had known, of course. How could she not, what with Harry’s constant preening and spice cologne. Mildred knew, but was love-prisoned, the bars of it metal and strong.
Egg yolk skittering now in the breakfast pan and Mildred can’t forget the dream. What with Harry telling her to meet him by the river. On the high rock ledge where they had that first summersweet picnic. The jab and snag of the rocks and the two of them going naked and in love.
In the dream, Harry tells her is death is lonely. What with her still alive, able to eat and sleep and breathe.
She had thought of this herself, of course. What with day and day and day blinking its stupid pain at her. She had thought of wristslit and pillswallow, but something was always stopping her, what with fear kicking in, one last hope kicking in.
In the dream, Harry is perfect. His other women hidden from his face. His tongue gone empty of lies. And the dream itself, what with its broken nature, turning Harry to a bird to a river to a rock.
Mildred finishes her breakfast. It would be easy to go to the river, she thinks. Take the cobbled path up to the ledge. Fall teardrop into the river.
But, by now, the sun is full. Late morning when the truth scorches itself into her eyes. Harry will never be better than he was last night in the dream. Will never love her more than that.
Later that night, when Mildred goes to bed, she knows that Harry will be waiting there for her, longing for her, wanting her, and so she slips perfect into sleep.
poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction), was published by ELJ Editions in September, 2021. Other recent books include Dressed All Wrong for This, flash fiction (Blue Light Press, 2019); The Way of the Wind, a novella in flash (AdHoc fiction, 2020); and The Theory of Flesh, poems (Kelsay Books, 2019). She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal, and she lives in New York City.