[Fiction] The Last Stage

Archie glanced at his analog clock. It was 6:57 am. He had been retired for seven years but still hadn’t gotten used to getting up any later. He knew the cannery was defunct and his son had told him over the phone to maybe try his at gardening, knitting, or golf. The sunlight shone wanly through the curtains and the dust motes hanging mid-air disappeared if he squinted the wrong way.

His goldfish was still snoozing, but the end of his tail was ragged.

Archie slipped silently from the covers.

“You poor thing,” he said to the bowl in his bedroom. Lifting it, he plodded over to the adjoining bathroom to fetch the bucket he kept under the sink. As it filled under the bathtub faucet, he imagined the clinking of silverware and someone busying herself in the kitchen. His face grew tight with sadness and then fond with remembrance.

“Well Zippy,” he said to the fish when the water had been transferred and it was swimming happily in its newly rehydrated home, “won’t you join me for breakfast?”

Archie took Zippy’s little wriggle as assent and carried Zippy, and his bowl, into the kitchen.



Shortly after my grandmother’s death
I looked upon her crowded shelf of pills
Thought about pouring a handful into my palms
Thought about pouring a handful into the aching empty places

I was left unmoored by the fragility of family
By the sudden rend of love’s security
And that was the first time such a concrete idea
Came into my head about a means to an end

I closed the cabinet door before I could make real
The possibility (impossibility) a mere reach
beyond my fingertips

I think of that self-preservation in tough times
I am thinking of it now

Anger and Grief

In lieu of sadness, I choose anger
And a cold tongue I lash at others instead of myself
When you do not take offense at me
Then I know you love me
And when I give you explanation
Please know I love you;
The hurts have amassed so inside
That tears can no longer purge them