It is two o’clock and Merche knows that her husband and son are at home, waiting for lunch.
She puts the remaining fish—two slippery eels; three flounder; and half a salmon, its flesh plump like a toddler’s—into the refrigerator. As she shuts the door and unties her apron, a woman approaches and asks if she has any sardines. She’d put them aside for the stray cats because they were two days old already, but she says yes, there are seven left.
The woman speaks with a languid South American accent, dropping S’s from the ends of words as if they were too much to ask of her. She wears a coat made of canvas and several silver rings with colored stones. Merche puts the sardines onto a hanging scale. Almost a kilo. She pushes the scale with her finger as she turns the dial to face her and gets them to weigh just over. She tells the woman the price as though she were giving a discount.
“Four euros is fine,” she says. “Está bien.”
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Stella would still be alive if not for the crazy confluence of factors that, when one considered the probabilities, one-in-a-million, one-in-a-billion, made it seem like the work of some all-knowing orchestrator.
Stella’s husband Hank had cut down the dogwood just two weeks prior. Had the tree been there, it might have blocked the Camaro. Stella had been in a chair in the southwest corner of the sunroom and had dozed off while reading. If her head had slumped to the other side of the armchair, she might have survived.
And there was the fence. Hank had started to rebuild it, as it had been assaulted in slow motion by creeping ivy over the years. So there was a part missing, big enough for a car. The tree. The fence. Either one would’ve slowed or altered the Camaro’s trajectory, kept it from hurtling across the yard, over the dogwood stump—orange mole on the skin of perfect green lawn—and through the flimsy wall and windows next to which Stella slept with a book sprawled across her lap.
You can read the rest of the story in the latest issue of the Jabberwock Review.
“Driving While Dead,” my short story, can be found at The Forge. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave me a message and tell me what you think!
My short short story, Confectionary, can be found in the current issue of The Helix. It’s on page 86. I hope you like it! https://thehelixmagazine.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/helix-2019.pdf.