by Myfanwy Collins

All that was left of the hermit crab was its shell. She’d enjoyed watching it scrabble around. Liked to think it was happy there with her but perhaps it had been desperate for food or escape. Maybe it had dried into dust and blown away. She picked up the shell and examined the interior. Lifted it to her ear.

Where did you go? she asked.

Yonder, the shell whispered.

On impulse she looked outside. A couple of male robins fought on the woody edge of the lawn. One leapt backward, retreating. The other flew mercilessly forward, pecking and clawing.

On their honeymoon, her ex-husband had brought her to a cockfight. The dusty alley. A man chewing on a chicken leg beckoned them into a tin-sided building. “Where do we go?” her ex asked. The man used the chicken leg to point them to a separate room, lit by fluorescence.

She supposed he thought it would be interesting for her. So foreign and raw. Not a bull fight, but close. Instead, it had left her stricken and unable to leave their room for the final few days of their trip. All of that blood and horror and the men cheering. The dying creature ran headless around the ring before collapsing and convulsing in the dirt.

Afterward, she lay in their honeymoon bed with the curtains closed against the tropical sun. She considered her soul. How, in an attempt to flee, it would stretch forth like a rubber band only to snap back and remain tethered to her. Her soul was not boundless. It was as attached to her as was her own head. She could not crawl out. There was no end.

Myfanwy Collins has work published in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Cream City Review, Quick Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, FRiGG, Caketrain, Potomac Review, PANK, Saranac Review, Mississippi Review and other venues. Please visit her here.

What do you see as your evolution as a writer of these compressed works? I’m not sure I can see an evolution. I constantly feel like I’m slipping backward and scrambling back up a very small hill of my own making.

What currently appears to you as the challenge of this form? The biggest challenge for me is making myself understood, finding enough space to say what I believe I want to say. I’m not a super wordy person but even so there are times when I want more space.

What keeps you interested in it, both as a reader and writer? When the language is poetic. When the ending feels like it could be written no other way. When I have gone to another place (physically, mentally, spiritually) in reading it.



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