Gay Degani


As the 7:05 rattles behind our trailer park, the cuckoo pops from his wooden house, and you stomp in from the bedroom, clutching Baby upside down against your chest. She knows this isn’t play.

You are Godzilla, crackling in primal celluloid. When I say, “Don’t hurt her,” you turn Technicolor, Kansas into Oz, all saturated purples and red, hi-fidelity loud, and call me whore. 

I drop forks and spoons and knives back into the dishwater. Turn toward you. The walls thump in and out. 

“Let me have her. Please,” I beg.

You brandish teeth, your nostrils bloom. Your anger shakes the air.

I slip my hands beneath her arms to pull her free. My child, crushed between us, whimpers.

You let go, surprising me, her weight a sudden burden. I dive to catch her, you collapsing with us to the cracked linoleum floor, hissing in my ear, and then the knife I didn’t drop, answers, and you go grainy black and white in the fading light.

The cuckoo bird retreats, the train is gone.

Gay Degani is the author of a full-length collection of short stories, Rattle of Want (Pure Slush Press, 2015), and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). She’s had four flash pieces nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Glass Woman Prize. She blogs at Words in Place.