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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Microfiction: 489 words
By Lorette C. Luzajic



No one would turn their heads back or whistle at the woman on the subway platform, no one, that is, but Collins. Her demeanor was somewhat plain. She was dressed nicely enough, in an understated way, blending in with hundreds of other nice, average women on their way home from work. Slightly chubby, brunette. He could tell by the blooming apron of her lower belly that she was on the middle to high end of forty even though her face read late 30s. The extra flesh was slowly starting to ease its way loose from the bone. This would rule her out for some and count her in for others, depending what it was a man was looking for.

Collins didn’t care if they were fat or skinny. He liked a tumble of curls, or a thick straight sheath of shiny. Black or blonde, no matter, even salt and pepper pleased him equally. He liked them in jeans, pant suits, or skirts. So long as they wore sandals. That’s what it was he saw first when he looked at her. Her feet were strong and wide and sturdy, confident in practical Clarks. Her ankles were chunky enough to hold her thickening frame. But her toenails were perfectly coiffed in a dreamy pale peach polish and her arch was the rival of any ballerina’s. He was smitten instantly.

He imagined unveiling her. Taking his time with the buckle. Feeling the puffy ankle with his fingers, trailing them over the slim spaces between the sweet and tubby toes.

If he was occasionally ashamed of his gawking, he forgave himself. He was hardly the worst among men. And since Jill had gotten sick with esophageal cancer, leaving him too soon, he’d been so lonely.

The woman turns, says something he can’t catch. He looks up, finds a face as warm and intelligent as her more pedestrian pleasures.

“What’s that, sorry?” Collins motions to the din around them and to his ear, tries on a friendly smile of his own. “Oh, I was just asking, are you a poet?” the woman with the beautiful toes replies. She points at the library book he is carrying. Modern Irish poets.

He catches her eye now. Feeling more comfortable. She has tiny lines around her eyes and mouth, and something about the shared humanity of it feels intimate to him. He crinkles his nose, grins. “Sort of,” he says. “Sometimes.” She asks to take a peek.

Maybe she’s married or a mother or busy or otherwise taken. But Collins takes a chance. Asks if she’d like to get a drink with him. He knows there is a cozy pub not far from the next stop, the Shamrock.

She smiles again, toothy and kind and cute for days. She shrugs a shy acceptance with one shoulder. Taps a finger against a page, Kavanagh, where he has underlined some lines twice.

“I love this poem,” she says.

Lorette C. Luzajic
Issue 23 (April 2024)

reads, writes, publishes, edits, and teaches flash fiction and prose poetry. Her own fiction and prose poems have appeared in Ghost Parachute, The Disappointed Housewife, Bending Genres, Unbroken, Trampset, The Citron Review, Flash Boulevard, New Flash Fiction Review, and beyond. Her works have been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart, Best Microfiction, and The Best Small Fictions. She won first place in a flash contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly. The author of four collections of small fictions and/or prose poems, The Rope Artist, The Neon Rosary, Pretty Time Machine, and Winter in June, she has also acted as judge for the Tom Park Poetry Prize.

Lorette is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to literature inspired by visual art. Her journal’s first print anthology, The Memory Palace, co-edited with Clare MacQueen, was released in March 2024. Lorette is also the founding editor of The Mackinaw, a journal of prose poetry, which debuted on 15 January 2024.

In addition, she’s an award-winning neoexpressionist artist who works with collage and mixed media to create urban, abstract, pop, and surreal works. She has collectors in thirty countries so far. She is also passionately curious about art history, folk horror, ancient civilizations, artisan and tribal jewelry, and culinary lore, to name a few.

Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca

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