Pamela Painter_All False Starts

All False Starts

That the dog didn’t bark was the first sign. 

Who acts like that, who, tell me who acts like that at a parent’s wedding?

He was a Texas Holdem player and I’m Five Card Draw.

His saxophone rode the piano, drums, and bass like a surfer on giant waves at Nazare.

That the dog just up and disappeared was the real sign.    

In the end it didn’t surprise me.   

I had the information, journals, DNA results, photographs, but I didn’t know which child to leave it to. 

That there even was a dog is part of the dispute.  

It wouldn’t be the first time. 

The motel was where we remembered it, high above the dunes, bleached clapboard, splintery deck, but it didn’t help that we remembered it differently.  

“You’re wearing that,” he said.   

A full moon, high winds churning up the wild horses, the dog barking in the night, who would have been able to stop what happened. 

You get the picture.   

If first sentences are gifts from the gods, elusive second sentences are the devil’s retribution.  But even false starts have to end.  

Pamela Painter’s flash collection is Wouldn’t You Like to Know. Her stories appear in numerous journals, and in the anthologies Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, Microfiction, New Micro, Nothing Short of 100, and Best Micro 2020. Her next collection, Fabrications: New and Selected Stories is due out from Johns Hopkins University Press in Fall 2020. She teaches in the Writing, Literature & Publishing Program at Emerson College.

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