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by Jayne Martin

The overpowering scent of orange blossoms, although there wasn’t an orange tree within miles of my Brooklyn brownstone, could only mean one thing. Mother was here. Raised amidst the orange groves of Florida, she had surrounded herself with its bouquet in everything from soap to candles to body lotion throughout her lifetime and she hadn’t abandoned it in death either.

The tea kettle began to whistle, despite there being no flame beneath it. Oh, God. She wasn’t just passing through this time. Mother wanted to talk.

Her visits had been pleasant in the beginning, just a whiff of orange now and then — a comforting reassurance that our loved ones lived on and still watched over us. But of course Mother couldn’t just leave it at that.

“Hi, Mom.”

I’d told none of the family about her visits, but for my birthday this year my older brother Eric had inexplicably given me a Ouija board, while taking pains to avoid eye contact. He always had tried to push her care off on me.

The small, wooden heart sailed across the board under the light touch of my fingertips. Say what you will about my mother. She’s nothing if not consistent.

“Yes, I have put on a few pounds … No, Mother. That’s not the reason I’m still single …”

Jayne Martin was the winner of Vestal Review’s 2016 VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Literary Orphans, F(r)iction, Five2One, Blink Inc, Spelk, 100-Word Story, Flash Frontier, Yellow Chair Review, Connotation Press, and Hippocampus. She is the author of Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin. Author page: http://injaynesworld.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html