There they were, his reading glasses at the bottom of the clear toilet bowl water neatly folded. There was something sad and tragic about the sight of them, something bigger drowned. She had been hounding him again the night before about having a baby as he was reading in bed and he just waved her off, turning the page and saying: it wasn’t the right time. He could hear some clock (some Big Ben) gonging in her, rattling the bed board and making the lamp shade tilt. He put his hand down into the shallow water and retrieved them, brought them to the sink to rinse. Put them on streaked and dripping, and allowed himself to see the world that way.
Atlas Wasn’t Giving Anything Away
I told my father I played a duet with God once and it was spectacular. That I played a mean harmonica and God played a conga beat on an upside down trash can. Well, it wasn’t really my father, just a framed photo of him with me as a kid on his shoulders. I never mentioned the LSD, but figured if his ghost ever showed I’d square it with him. “You know, I always wanted to skydive while playing an accordion,” I said, gazing at the beefy breath of him, that top-of-the-world view I had from there. I wondered what it was he wanted to do but never did, before he slid the world from his shoulders, clicked on the TV and hid inside all that canned laughter.
He was a tugboat captain. And built like one. Short and barrel-chested with the buttons of his shirt perpetually stressed. He said he moved ocean liners about as easily as dollhouse furniture, and hoped he didn’t come off as overcompensating. “Can you move me?” she said, and leaned in. There was something about that smile, the full stretch of those glossy red lips, the way she held her drink even, at an angle without spilling a drop, that made him wonder.
On the eves of the old cabin we were renting, icicles were melting in slow drips as if water were waking from a deep sleep. Inside you were in that fluffy blue robe feeding the fireplace like it was an endangered species. We’d quarreled about god-knew-what, and it was time for us to melt now. The walls were knotty pine; all those knots, all those branches that could only be imagined now. You turned and the robe swung open. “Hey,” I said.
Robert Scotellaro’s work has been included in W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International and Flash Fiction America, Best Small Fictions 2016, 2017, and 2021, Best Microfiction 2020, and elsewhere. He’s the author of eight chapbooks and six flash story collections. He has, with James Thomas, co-edited New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, published by W.W. Norton & Co. Robert lives in San Francisco. Visit him at: www.robertscotellaro.com