1st Prize – Lee Danielle Hubbard

Canadian Authors – Victoria 2016 Flash Fiction Contest – First Prize

Step Mom by Lee Danielle Hubbard (Salt Spring Island)

The screaming starts at 1:00 a.m. It starts with piss, soaking his pajamas teal to torpid blue. He’s three, and howls. Crane flies badger the window. He doesn’t cover his face, just stands beside the bed with tears around his mouth and a little boy’s erection as I scrabble the flannel down over his feet. The house smells of pasta and rubber boots. He screams for his dad, then wordlessly.

I carry him into our room. It’s 1:14. He pedals his feet, fists in the pillows. His dad’s not home. I touch his arm and he shoves me away. So enigmatic: he trusted me four hours ago when we read Mo Willems until he fell asleep, and I spent the interval sweeping linoleum, and folding socks, and watching my Cannondale Ultegra turn dark outside.

I stand. He howls. Sit – he howls louder. It’s 1:36. His three-year-old hands grab his tiny boner and I look away. I watch the crane flies, one mosquito, an upside-down fly.

At 1:48, I leave the room. I close the door. I sit on the couch. I sit at the table. I crouch beside the washing machine.

His dad will come home. In the morning, the three-year-old will share my cereal. He’ll crow about Mo Willems, and 1:00 a.m. won’t have mattered to anyone but me.

At 1:58, he stops screaming. I watch the Ultegra through the rear screen door. At 2:05, I open the screen and let in the crane flies.

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