I don’t like the sound at all. Especially when they seem to be getting closer. Because they are. Our house is on fire. Or at least we think so. Momma is moaning like Sneezy did when her calf got stuck and we had to use the come-a-long. Kind of low and in a pitch that seems sickly. I’m wrapped in a blanket with my little sister propped in the seat of our International Harvester tractor. My two older sisters are perched next to us in the blue John Deere. Smoke is pouring out of our enclosed porch windows, our basement, our bedrooms. Pretty much everywhere. It’s late, way past my bedtime.
“What did you save?” my little sister asks. She’s fingering her favorite necklace of Tobojejo. She never takes it off.
“Nothing,” I say. But I regret not grabbing my favorite book: Island of the Blue Dolphins.
One of the firemen lifts Jamie out of our seat. He holds her close to his beard, bouncing around, her eyes widen and lips curl like a Cindy Lou grimace. I want the young, blond one close by to lift me, hold me, dance me around. I raise my arm, and like Carol Burnett, feign a Southern accent, “Oh, oh – sir? Pul-lease?” But my mother catches me and says, “Seriously? Not the right time for this.”
The amount of smoke causes Dad to transport us, one by one, to the Milk House attached to the barn. Mom has disappeared. When she comes back, she is never quite the same.
Robert Vaughan teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction at locations like Red Oak Writing, The Clearing, Synergia Ranch, Mabel Dodge Luhan House. He leads roundtables in Milwaukee, WI. He was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction (2013, 2014). He was the head judge for the 2016 Bath Flash Fiction Award. His flash fiction “A Box” was selected for Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press). He is the Editor-in-Chief at Bending Genres, LLC.
Vaughan is the author of five books: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (CCM), RIFT (Unknown Press, co-authored with Kathy Fish) and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press). His blog: http://www.robert-vaughan.com.