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by Francine Witte

And again, the same old story. Every day, another fight. Only this time, my Mama is just lying around in the tangerine part of the morning, lying around out back on a lounge chair like a load of laundry instead of going after my Pop.

It sounded like all their other squabbles. Wordcrash and heartpunch, but this time it was just a little worse. This time my Pop confessed about the carpool woman who picks him up each day after Mama makes him a hardwork breakfast — blueberry pancakes and such.

After a while, he exhaled and fell into his armchair and kept on saying how he was tired and the only thing that woke him up these days was the way the carpool woman would offer to share her thermos of coffee, which he would share, if truth be told, but he didn’t care for half and half. And then my Pop said that now it seemed more natural for him to take this other woman’s hand, all quivery and sad, as she told him about her lost little boy, and her husband who disappeared into a hole of trying to find him, and this is the reason she even had to go back to work.

And most other mornings, he’d squawk out of the house and say things like don’t wait up for me, woman and find yourself another boy, and my Mama, she’d start rushing around, cleaning up the argument mess, the couch pillows he threw or the magazine pages she tore up. Then, she’d rush off to the grocer to buy what she’d need for a makeup dinner, but I don’t know, she must feel it bone deep this time, that he really isn’t coming back, and that’s why she’s lying there like the sweet relief the sky must feel each night when it lets go of the sun it must get tired of holding up for so long.

Francine Witte’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Lost Balloon, Stonecoast Review, Moon Candy Review, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed Wrong for All This (flash), The Theory of Flesh (poetry), and The Way of the Wind (novella). She lives in NYC.