That month so many men died, there were widows on our block, and one of
them collected nice alcoholic beverages. When I sat on her sofa, she excused herself and came back barefoot wearing a silk kimono and a velvet headband. She was boyishly pretty, like nobody else.
Her husband had been one of fifteen contractors crushed when a pilaster of brick and plaster imploded. She said the hospitality group sent her a condolence letter with no personal signature. A tear leaked out of one eye when she said it. That eye shone.
“Too bad my husband never saw all those exotic tiles,” she said.
“Well, my husband has seen them all as you know,” I said. “He can’t stop bringing them home.”
“Still,” she said.
We kissed for a while without mentioning it. The day moved in and out, holding one another up. Later that night, I told her that my husband felt like a familiar movie. Too much of one thing, and not enough of everything else — and I had to just sit there and watch.
She told me my skin reminded her of abalone. It changed color, she said. She seemed happy to have company, her face was all pink and shiny, and the feeling inside my spirit revived from all the goodness, and the sharing of yellowish burning syrup that she admitted was homemade absinthe. The young widows made the absinthe and shared it, she said.
Her liquor-coated lips burned my sadness off, and later on, early in the morning when the sun was new, I walked home with nothing and everything.
Meg Pokrass is the author of Damn Sure Right (Press 53, 2011) Bird Envy, a novella-in-flash, Here, Where We Live (Rose Metal Press, 2014) and Cellulose Pajamas – Prose Poems (Blue Light Book Award, 2015). Her fourth full collection, The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down, is forthcoming from Etruscan Press in 2016. Meg’s flash fiction has been widely and internationally anthologized, most recently in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International. Meg is a co-founder of the San Francisco reading series “The Flash Fiction Collective.”