It was the year Daddy went hunting. He returned with a fawn in the back of his rusty truck, a poppy-shaped wound in the brown-and-white-spotted body, inches above the front leg. Look, how beautiful! he pointed a gloved finger to the snowflakes stuck in the animal’s still open eyes, the eyes on the head he later mounted in the family room, the eyes watching us sip cocoa, our faces glowing around the flames in the hearth.
It was the year late afternoons bled onto our supper table, painting the three porcelain bowls red before Mama poured beef soup into them, the sun a wound in the kitchen bay window. Mama would get sick in the middle of the meal and run to the bathroom, a hand clasped over her mouth. Daddy would hold her burgundy hair away from her face and rub the vertebrae poking through her dress as she threw up in the toilet bowl. She’d be sick morning, afternoon, and evening, when she’d cook and clean, when she’d eat, when she’d knit caps and booties in shades of yellow and green.
It was the year I woke up one morning to the sound of an animal howling in mortal pain only to find out it was Mama—wailing and shaking as if her body had split into two, her head buried between the knees hugged to her chest, a poppy blossoming on the fawn-colored sheet under her. Daddy wrapped her in a sheepskin blanket and carried her to the rusty truck, dropping me at Grandma’s on his way to the hospital, miles into the town.
It was the year Mama, upon returning from the hospital, presented me with a rag doll baby, a knit hat covering its palm-sized head. I sat on the couch, letting my hair fall around my face to form a curtain against Mama, my back towards the wall with deer eyes, and lifted the doll’s cotton gown to check whether it was a boy or a girl, like next-door Neil showed me behind the old oak in his backyard.
SARA SIDDIQUI CHANSARKAR — Sara is an Indian American writer. Born to a middle-class family in India, she later migrated to the USA. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications, in print, and online. Her work has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2022. She is currently a Prose Editor at Janus Literary and a Submissions Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. Her debut flash fiction collection Morsels of Purple is available for purchase on Amazon.com. Her chapbook will be released in 2022. More at https://saraspunyfingers.com. Reach her @PunyFingers.
Art by DÉSIRÉE JUNG –Désirée is an artist born in Brazil and adopted by Vancouver, Canada. She has published translations, poetry, and fiction in several magazines around the world. She has also participated in several artist residencies. She has a film degree from Vancouver Film School, a BFA and MFA in Creative Writing, and a PhD in Comparative Literature, all from the University of British Columbia. Her most recent work, a series of video poems about memory, landscape and what is not-all out there, has been screened in several film festivals around the world, and can be found in her website: www.desireejung.com