September 13, 2017

Flash Fiction by Carroll Susco: "After I Am Gone"

Carroll Ann Susco holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Pittsburgh and numerous publications including three essays in The Sun Magazine.  She writes and teaches in Alexandria, VA.  Her chapbook: True Fiction: A Pseudo Autobiographical Chapbook in Three Parts is available at

You can read more of Carroll's work in the December 2014 and April 2015 Issues of IVJ.  

After I Am Gone

The rainbow that pulls itself out of the ground around Telegraph Road is light fractured, broken air and water.  It mixes with the wet of my eyes.  Leaving.  Leaving her.  The last time?  Or is next time the last time?  The radio plays, “I’m wasted and can’t find my way home,” and it sings my heart.  I am an orphan without a home and no place rings true now.  The home is in her apartment at the retirement community, slowly dying.
My mother pushed her walker through the held open door to our table where she sat and ate lamb chops for Easter.  I can’t eat a lamb.  I am starting to wonder if I can eat fish.  I ate a salad, unable to kill or let go.  Mike has dessert and so we go, a Sunday drive, the long way home that is no longer home soon.
I am thankful for Mike, the way he seems grounded and able to face what I cannot. I sit on the porch and smoke while he talks inside, having mastered elderly speak.  I don’t know the tune that makes everyone happy, Stephen Stills, and yet you request it on my radio.  Please don’t be sad sounds like sad lyrics, and I am not even astute.  I look at the rainbow beginning where I feel like I end, or a part of me does.  How can it begin?  It feels like a slap in the face.
The long drive home ends.  I walk bare foot due to climate change, which is called nothing.  But I know it has for years ago we would have had coats and bonnets.  The climate has changed.  Bare feet.  I step on glass and the blood refracts the light in me.
They saw the end of the rainbow where I am tonight.  Somewhere where I can drink a glass of wine and smoke another cigarette. It was amazing.   They have pictures.  I want to see. I want to walk there, look around.  I want to know if I die.  I want to know if my mother will watch over me from heaven, or at least the angels, or at least one angel.  God would be good.  I don’t feel safe driving at night.  So, I light up.  Which is supposed to mean I don’t care if I die. No, I care where the rainbow ended and if it was a good place.  I want to know the rainbow was happy and that the pot of gold lit up when it saw ROY G BIV—red orange yellow green blue indigo violet.  Blood refracted makes different colors.  Hers was mine once.  Perhaps that is the tie that holds us, the electric blood running through our veins connects.
My toe is torn, and I bandage it myself, the way I always have, even too small to understand a band aid’s inner workings.  She gave me a band aid when my husband left, but it didn’t hold.  I have no good memories.  Only the nows aren’t so bad, the quiet passive one, until I am a fractured orphan, engulfed in clouds, ending someplace I only hear about after I am gone.

© Carroll Susco

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