Stay by Sarah Freligh

She is alone, so alone in the mausoleum of her apartment that when the ant climbs up the table leg and across the placemat and into the tar pit of syrup left behind on her plate from the pancakes she had for breakfast, that instead of smiting the ant with the tip of her finger or a paper towel, she lifts him gently so as not to crush him and carries him over to the sink where she lowers him into a droplet of water, an ant bath for him to Calgon in for a moment or two, and when he seems okay and flexing his little legs, she cuts a piece of flannel from an old shirt that Shithead left behind when he packed a single suitcase and walked out of this life and into the next one with his safe and boring secretary and makes a bed for the ant. She will teach him tricks, how to sit and heel and how to beg for a crumb on her plate and later he will learn to roll over ā€“ why not? ā€“ and maybe listen to her when she begs him to stay.

SARAH FRELIGH — Sarah is the author of four books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis, and We, published by Harbor Editions in early 2021. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Fractured Lit, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018) and Best Microfiction (2019-21). Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts.

Art by LAURIE MARSHALL — Laurie is a writer and analog collage artist from Northwest Arkansas. Her words can be found in some cool places but Flash Frog tucked into a special place in her heart when they asked her to illustrate their amazing July stories. She believes in the power of Militant Optimism, prefers her chocolate dark, and is currently raising gray tree frog tadpoles on her back patio. Find her on Twitter @LaurieMMarshall.