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We’re in the garden.  There are fragrances there, fluent in many languages.  Cassie digs, plants, pats the earth.  We’ll soon be wedding cake toppers—her lacy gown/my penguin-wear.  There are wind chimes, tinkling.  They were once blown into a tangle of silence.  It took a while to untangle them.  Perhaps there is a metaphor here.  The story changes.  We are continually winnowing it down (what is at stake) like Russian nesting dolls.

Her engagement ring is over an earth-crusted trowel, in league with sunlight.  There will be a faint ghost of it on her finger when she takes it off at night.  I’m in a lawn chair strumming a ukulele.  She wants a baby.  I want two dogs and a Harley.  “No hurry,” she tells me. 

“People pray for a basketful and carry a cup,” she told me once.  You could break a tooth chewing on that one.  As she goes back into the house, I glance at a rose she’s brushed past, bobbing, then at the accordion folds of her shadow up the steps.

Bachelor Party

The stripper comes in with a behemoth in tow, slices through testosterone thick as whale blubber.  She waves off light from her eyes.  Someone gets a towel and puts it over the shade of a standing lamp.  The dimmer light hides a bruise I noticed earlier, caked with make-up.  Many of my friends are married.  The “ball and chain” jokes morph into a sizzle with wide eyes on her: “Look-what-you’ll-be-missing” eyes.

The behemoth speaks with a heavy Eastern European accent.  He lays out some rules, then holds up a wall with his arms folded.  A chair is placed in the center of the room and I’m in it.  The striper unzips my trousers slowly like she is revealing the secrets of the universe.  We waited this long, so what the hell?  Then pant leg by pant leg she pulls off my jeans to cheers.  I’m in my tighty-whities.  My friends’ expletives are small explosives with confetti inside.  The behemoth has a boom box and plays some garment-shedding music on it she finds irresistible.  She’s pretty good.  And fit.  She’s in no hurry.  There is a restless shuffling from the watchers and I’m not certain, but I think I hear someone say, “Oh, momma!”

She’s down to just her panties, turns her red-lacy butt to the revved up onlookers.  Tony gets up and hollers something unintelligible, so exuberantly, he farts and everyone laughs.  The behemoth does a “Sit the fuck down” gesture with his bearded head, and Tony does as he’s told.  She makes much of her lap-landing.  Circles the runway, then gyrates down.  The feverish hooting crescendos.

There is something overly floral about her scent.  Not Cassie’s garden.  This is olfactory abuse.  I feel her breath in my ear: “Now ain’t you the show horse,”  she says.   It sounds rehearsed.  I smell something burning.  It’s not cigarette smoke or pot.  “Shit,” the behemoth says and turns like a weather vane and rushes to the lamp.  The towel is nearly on fire.

Cave Entrance

“Do we really need protection?” Cassie says.  “I mean, what are we actually protecting against?  Let’s roll the dice.  Get frisky.”

We are at a party.  It’s snowing out, lightly.  Our coats are atop a pile on the bed, slightly damp, and Cassie finds the weighted sum of them inviting.  She has stopped taking the pill, says they’re making her moody.  We’re using condoms now.  I haven’t any.  My brother is at the house feeding our two yellow labs.  My Harley is in the garage waiting for spring.  Waiting to spring.  I want Cassie’s arms around my waist and the world to whiz on by us, or seem to, as we whiz on by it.  Velocity can air one out.  Air two out in all the right ways.

Lately Cassie’s been urging us to make love in odd places.  Says she always wanted to make love in a barn, in a hammock, in a mall dressing room.  Everyone is in the living room with their drinks and an ooze or riptide of gossip.  We are in the bedroom of a close friend.  Cassie is staring at the pile of coats and lifts one end.  It is dark inside and there is the combined scents of all our friends (natural and unnatural) and a hint of the weather outside.  When I was a kid my mother got me a book of snowflakes.  A single flake for each slick page.  I marveled at the sight of each in isolation.  Nearly planetary.  Each a unique, irreplicable art.

Currently they are merely damp spots on coats as Cassie smiles, goes to the door/the knob and pushes in the lock button.  Goes back and finds another cave entrance.  I glance inside.  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I say.  There is no end in there, no top, no bottom—only future now.

Robert Scotellaro’s work has been included in W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, Matter Press, Best Small Fictions 2016, 2017, and 2021 (forthcoming), Best Microfiction 2020, and others. He is the author of seven literary chapbooks and five full-length flash and micro story collections. He has, along with James Thomas, co-edited New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, published by W.W. Norton & Co. Robert is one of the founding donors to The Ransom Flash Fiction Collection at the University of Texas, Austin. Visit him at

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