Meg Pokrass:
2 Stories


"A part of growing old is folding things in half," she said, folding all the kitchen dish towels.

I saw how the family luck, clingy as cat hair, never had a chance to break free. I learned that my mother's luck was a wan cup of Pepsi that has been out all night for a sick child, flat and then discarded. On our stoop, luck cleared its throat like a Mormon missionary and walked away.

Now, the fake flagstone stone stairs leading up to our house are crazy, and our door knob is black. The sky and the moon always dawdling, absentmindedly humming, doing what the newspapers say.

Her luck was crocodilian, it ate her and I was next in line. I was the child waiting in the shallow water... for soft, tickling fish.

Her luck once had the dreamy lick of salt between us - and then I was born to her...  screaming and wanting nothing to do with human milk. I imagine her whisking soy powder into water. The rise of her functional breasts.

We got rid of the dog because he bit the postman. My father left because he hated animals. We still had the three cats. He had a point. I munched carrots instead of crying, my feet and the palms of my hands became orange.

To kill our bad luck, I became the world's best. Best at things nobody bragged about:

1. chopping onions without ruining my makeup.
2. opening a curtain and seeing God in the wet air.
3. brightening my nights by moving things along the softest part of my body.

Luck sways and eats itself. Mom watches less TV and still folds towels. Soon, a boy will find me sitting alone at recess and say, "Hey."

That boy will find me attractive and say, "You are cuter than you think."

He'll try to change my luck while begging for cigarettes, and I'll offer them.

He'll trot to his car to get a lighter, and he'll bring a snack bag of nuts, pistachios... and we'll share them... sitting behind the school library, coughing and munching and kissing, echoing the others lips.

Drunk Elephant

Elephant, I said looking at his flash card with an ink splotch.
It has a trunk or a curly leg.

Oh, the doctor said. Okay. Yes. And what is the elephant saying or doing? he asked.

It's drunk, I said. This may be the kind of elephant that looks for ways to get high! I said.

This is real, this really happens - I read about it in a science magazine, I added.

You must know this elephant! he laughed.
I thought the doctor looked really striking in navy blue. His eyes were the color of a humid jungle sky.

So, what about this here? he asked, holding up another ink blotch card.

Sharpie, I said. Hm. Well, that is a sharpie or a penis. It could be either thing, but it looks very friendly - as though it could make someone really productive or smarter than they are, I added.

I looked at the clock in his office. It was broken or time was moving too quickly. I loved being asked such weird questions, slyly teasing him about Freud and penis envy theory, and I liked the doc's ageless smile and his tilted green eyes.

San Francisco, he said. Thank God we live in San Francisco.

He laughed. I laughed. I had no idea what he meant.

Why do you say so? I asked.

Well, he said, I'm not sure exactly. It just came into my head.  I mean, you have very unusual thoughts. It's a compliment, he said.

He looked at me as though he wanted to ask me a question. His eyes were purple today.

For someone with an inoperative tumor, I had a pretty good sense of humor. He had a good sense of humor too. I was proud of us for having good senses of humor.

A shaft of sunlight trickled in through the skinny, tall window and lit up the doctor's  face. For the first time, I noticed an asymmetrical mole on the right side of his cylindrical chin.

Misshapen- blue and black and gray.

He fingered his mole with his index finger. I squinted at it hard.

I want to talk about the shape of that, I said.

Go ahead, then, he said. His right eye took on a tiny twitch.

He opened his desk drawer, and pulled out a hand-rolled cigarette.  He lit it, sucked strongly, and handed it to me. It felt strangely normal taking it from his hand, sucking on it, holding the smoke inside my chest. The room became quiet and cozy.

I told him that the shape of his mole looked like the shape of a continent.

Which one? he said. 

This had something to do with drunk elephants, and what I had read about pleasure seeking mammals. Smoking, passing it back and forth. After ten minutes or so, his mole became a smudge of dark chocolate.

Meg Pokrass writes flash fiction, prose poetry and makes story animations.  She serves as Editor-at-Large for BLIP Magazine (formerly Mississippi Review) and designs and runs the well-loved Fictionaut Five author interview series for Fictionaut. Her work has appeared in over one hundred online and print publications.

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