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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Microfiction: 384 words
By Todd Mercer

The Flip Stops Here


We moved many times. Especially when the kids were still young. If we weren’t emotionally attached to a house, I’d usually sell it for full price soon after Marshall got done fixing everything. We’d show fixer-uppers a little love and let them blossom. Twice I sold a house the family missed living in later. Marshall was dead-set against us letting go the one we called Casa Amarillo, but I outvoted him. It earned us ninety grand past the price we’d paid. Great money, but maybe a mistake.

Marshall was angry but he wouldn’t say so. We moved into where we are now, The Canyon House. After the van was empty my husband said, “Jane, this is our last house, or I’m done with it.”

It was the first time in memory that Marshall laid down the law like that. He was usually agreeable, my can-do guy. But he was serious, so I suppose we won’t be moving.

The kids are bringing their families to spend Christmas with us this year. Marshall is out cutting a tree to decorate when they get here. How long since we’ve been together, all of us? People get busy, stay busy and the time gets away. The time gets away to where some of the people who look old are my age now.

It’s quiet this morning. I call the office to see if they need me in for anything, but they’re on top of business. Clearly I hired capable brokers. “Go on and enjoy your retirement,” they tell me. A tall order. Right? It’s hard to get used to doing almost nothing.

After he’s back with the tree, I ask Marshall if he’ll take me for a ride. That’s what we did a thousand years ago on our first date. He’s happy to.

Rolling slowly through older neighborhoods, we take turns naming the architectural styles of the homes around us. “Prairie, Cape Cod, Second Empire,” he says, driving with one hand and resting the other one on my knee. “Eastlake, Italianate, Storybook Cottage,” I point out along another beautiful street.

Our whole lives, almost, fascinated with houses. The time gets away, we won’t get it back, but at least one person still speaks the same language I do. We’re still going.

—From the author’s manuscript, In the Location Business, a collection primarily of microfictions.

Todd Mercer’s
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

short collection Ingenue was a winner of the Celery City contest. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, is available free at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in Literally Stories, Friday Flash Fiction, and Spartan.

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