I Had Trouble with Comparisons

by Matthew Salesses

The boy brought home a cardboard box and set it on the kitchen table like it meant something. I sorted through looking for worth.A new dinosaur toy, a salamander tail (real), two self-moving Matchbox cars, and, most strangely, nine fingernails I hoped were false. I didn’t want to touch them to tell. I still wouldn’t know where they’d come from. They were painted pink, and their public display baffled me. Had he left them for me, or the wifely woman? I waited for him to come out of his room, not wanting to interrupt whatever he had to keep private. He stepped out in his “best” shirt, all black except for a white line down the middle. He called this his tie—I had tried to give him a real tie but he hated anything around his neck. I asked him, “Another tail?” to warm him up, thinking about our dead cat. He said, “Dad,” with a tremble, the first time he had called me that, and I realized at once that he was trying me out, “this is my apology box.” I had no idea whether to hug him or seek a hug for myself, or seek help. I said, “And the nails?” He held one out to me. I was a biter. He hung his head and the Dad seemed to retreat into his mouth. “I’m sorry,” he said, I didn’t know why. I thanked God the nail felt false.

Matthew Salesses was adopted from Korea at age two. His latest book is a novel in flash fiction, I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying. His essays and fiction have appeared in The Good Men Project, The New York Times Motherlode Blog, The Rumpus, Hyphen Magazine, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Witness, and other venues.

Besides “comparisons,” what else do you have trouble with (knowing, of course, that the “I” of the title is not you)?



Congrats to Christopher Allen for having a work from HOUSEHOLD TOXINS being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now CLOSED. Check out our new category triptychs! The next submission period opens September 15, 2019; submit here.


08/19 • Nick Ackerson
08/21 • Tyler Friend
08/22 • Nance Van Winckel (7 of 8)
08/26 • Suzanne Verrall
08/28 • Amelia Wright
08/29 • Nance Van Winckel (8 of 8)
09/02 • Kim Peter Kovac
09/04 • Ugonna-Ora Owoh
09/05 • Richard Baldasty (1 of 4)
09/07 • Briel Felton
09/12 • Richard Baldasty (2 of 4)
09/14 • Frances Badgett
09/19 • Richard Baldasty (3 of 4)
09/26 • Richard Baldasty (4 of 4)
10/03 • J.I. Kleinberg
12/02 • Tara Campbell