Instructions for Maintaining the Fabric of Your Universe

Karen Jones

and soft touches in those first few hours of the honeymoon. Slow caresses, case still full of dresses, this room the only world, his touch all the covering you need.

his scent from your skin. Sweat-mingled, salt-taste to tongue, you never want to be clean again.

if you have to. But do it together – the shower a new adventure of soap and shampoo and slick softness.

even though it might be fun. Wrap in soft towels, pat, squeeze, hug, rub. Apply lotion, liberally.

through those last few weeks before he leaves you. Remember that honeymoon. Wear the copper anniversary ring, even though it makes your finger itch. Pretend everything is fine. Laugh too loudly, smile too often, apply make-up to present the prettiest face to the world. Prettier than hers. It only has to be prettier than hers.

but don’t shrink away. While he packs, pace the room, pace the children’s rooms, pace the garden. Breathe. Pace yourself. 

to smoothe every wrinkle in his arguments, his plans. Lay it all out straight for him to see. What he’s done. What he’s going to do.

Sod it. Scream. Rant. Blame. Make sure it lands where it belongs. Spit her name. Lose control. Crumple. Lose power. Promise never to tell the kids the truth.

When she leaves him. Don’t take him back.

your hands in anguish. Do not answer his calls.

in the garden. For all the world to see the truth.

Karen Jones is a flash and short story writer from Glasgow, Scotland. Her flashes have been nominated for Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize, and included in Best Small Fictions 2019. She is Special Features Editor for New Flash Fiction Review. Her novella-in-flash, When It’s Not Called Making Love is published by Ad Hoc Fiction.