the girl sits at the kitchen table drawing her signature puppies, heavy, black-circled cheeks, great lap of a tongue. the girl’s mother dries the last dish, covers what’s left of the pot roast with a sheet of aluminum foil and joins the girl at the table. with a red crayon the mother draws a picture of a fish and cuts it out with the girl’s pint-sized scissors. “remember the minnowfish at pepper lake,” says the girl’s mother, “how they shimmered?” the girl slouches. the girl’s mother continues cutting. the refrigerator whirs and the strawberry clock above the stove burbles. again, the girl’s mother asks the girl about the fish at pepper lake, and the girl does not answer. the girl stares at the mother’s sallowy fingers, distant, tarnished rings. a thick, greasy film settles. the girl’s mother finishes cutting out her fish. the hovering light is excruciatingly yellow. the mother gets up from the kitchen table and places the fish in the girl’s lap and says, “ i’m done.” the girl sits with the flimsy minnow congealed in quiet. the girl’s mother unties her faded apron and dissolves from the kitchen like organdy mist. the girl holds the paper creature up to the dangling light. the minnowfish curls in the pulse of the girl’s hand and flops to the floor like a bloodless appendage.

Christine Tierney's poetry and flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, Poet Lore, Permafrost, PMS, The Tusculum Review, descant, The Yalobusha Review, The Broome Review, Sanskrit, Skidrow Penthouse, Shadowbox, Tattoo Highway, Soundzine, Cider Press Review, Sugar House Review, Gemini Magazine, TheNewerYork, Lungfull!, AEROGRAM, This Literary Magazine, Monkeybicycle, Pismire, scissors & spackle, Weave Magazine, Meat For Tea, and The Boiler Journal.