“Palm in the Wind” by Lori McNamara, oil on masonite.
As a splinter in her mind,
it begins, the right hand
brushing each finger
of her left hand, abrading
the dry tinder. Somewhere,
her family is traveling, staggering,
breathing through the day.
There’s an order to the rubbing:
thumb to index to pinky, never
touching the nail. She never fails,
never flags, never forgets.
If she does, of course they die.
That’s the only certainty.
She rubs harder, quicker,
first smoke, then flame.
Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in Best Small Fictions 2015 and The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction. He blogs regularly at FlashFiction.Net and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.
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