Flash Fiction Week Runner-up!
BY BERNADINE VAN RENNE
Copyright is held by the author.
WINNIE’S SKIN turned white where she squeezed it with the clothespin. She pinched her arms, her lips and her fingers testing for pain while she lay on the warm grass, listening to Chester yipping at the back door. Her mother had shouted 10 minutes before, “For Pete’s sake Winnie, let Chester out already.”
Her back pressed into the lawn, Winnie stretched out her bent knees and dropped her arms to her sides, hoping to make herself invisible from the open kitchen window, where she knew her mother looked out, phone in one hand, cigarette in the other, smoke drifting through the screen.
The clothespin pinched too hard on the soft skin inside her arm, but she liked the feel of it on her finger. She clamped in on and waved it around, feeling power in her now extra-long digit. She croaked “E.T. phone home.”
“Jesus Dan. You said you’d be here. You said you’d take her.”
Winnie risked sitting up to fasten the clothespin on her big toe.
“Do you think I care? It’s one week in the whole summer. You can take her for one goddamn week. You said you would.”
The flesh of her big toe bulged out the sides of the clothespin, then the pin snapped off into the grass.
“Well, you can tell her. Winnie!”
Winnie clipped the clothespin back onto her arm. It hurt more there.
Bernadine Van Renne missed the day at school when the teacher told them to choose one thing and one thing only, and now she animates, paints, and writes to tell stories. She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions, and after a decade in Ottawa, and four years in England, she has come full circle and returned to her hometown of Brantford, Ontario.