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by Meg Pokrass

We’re kissing on the beach and I’m old enough to be his mother. He’s a bike mechanic. Lives for his patched-together bikes, cycles from town to town, free-flowing.

Most people know nothing about bicycle mechanics, but he knows how every part works. This thrills me. Can you tell? I ask, my lips sleeping on his hairless belly.

I tell him my story. How a lifetime ago I had a bike, a husband, a house, a dog. The dog was a bit chubby. We were out of milk that morning, so I rode my bike to the grocery store, came home three months later with a dent in my head. That was when I was married, living a normal-ish life, worrying about the dog’s girth. I could remember the way my husband was then, rolling his eyes at me.

If he’d only been a bike mechanic, like you, I told him. You’re beautiful.

He instructs me not to think too hard, loops his arms around my waist. Bitterness rolls around, makes a hum inside my brain as if it has its own gear. I wake up in his grip, and it’s like I’m riding home.

Meg Pokrass is the author of four collections of flash fiction and one award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas, which received the Blue Light Book Award in 2016. Her writing has been widely anthologized, most recently in Best Small Fictions 2018, edited by Aimee Bender (Braddock Avenue Books) and two Norton Anthologies of flash fiction: Flash Fiction International and New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co. 2018). Meg lives in Northumberland with her husband, one dog, and one cat.