I'm stacking this. I'm stacking that when I look over and there is Flynn, my boss, tapping on his clipboard, and thinking he is Godder than God.
You'd think by now I'd learn. Especially after what I went through with Jones. He swore his wife was a memory, so I let him kiss me right there on his desk, and his wife shows up next afternoon with a picnic lunch.
I keep on stacking all this stuff, and how come I'm not a robot, yet? How come nobody warned me more, not my mother who curled old lady hair in the beauty parlor, not my runaway father, who drank and one day, couldn't take it anymore, and anything he did say sounded like a grunt.
And maybe I heard in those grunts that men speak two languages — pretty and rich — and if you aren't either, like me, you are going to spend the rest of your life stacking things, and waiting for half-married men and stuck-up bosses to look at you once in a while.
I guess that explains how last night, after hours, Flynn put down his clipboard and walked over, shaving lotion-smile and sex breath. It explains how we ended up in Storage B on top of the boxes labeled to Indiana all set to ship out.
And surprise! This morning, those boxes were gone along with any eye contact from Flynn who thinks I'm just a hangover. And I stack all morning, and don't dare stop. And the one time I did, he started tapping his clipboard with his pencil, and I heard it loud and clear — It never happened, and, Talk, and you're fired.
And me, I start thinking, what would my beauty parlor mother tell me to do? What would my runaway father? I don't expect to get an answer, but I know it wouldn't be this.
And I suddenly get how my whole life is stacked up with lies and oh, here's another. And just like that I stop all my stacking, hold my hands up empty like I did when I was little to show I had nothing to hide.
And now, it's the two of us standing like that. Flynn, tapping the truth down into his clipboard and me, my hands in the air, like birds that have just discovered the power of flight.
Day 10 of the new semester, she showed up in a chicken suit. The students won't even notice, she thought. She waited at her desk and combed the feathers, which were a nice buttery yellow. She adjusted the plastic beak.
The students arrived, Mallory (two L's, please,) Liberty Ann, and Sunshine. Followed, of course, by the others.
She waved her wing to motion them to their seats. It hadn't occurred to her that the wing would prevent her from holding chalk.
"Liberty Ann," she said, "what difficulties are you are having with Chaucer?" A hard question, but one that needed to be asked.
"I don't understand what he's saying," Liberty Ann said, looking around. "None of us do. And why are you dressed like a chicken?"
"Does it matter?" she said, "and why are you changing the subject?"
"I bet you want attention," Liberty Ann said. "My brother did the same thing last August. He put on my mother's wedding gown and climbed up to the roof. My dad had to call the fire department."
Mallory chimed in, "You don't have to try so hard to get a reaction from us. In the scheme of things, we won't remember you, anyway."
Sunshine, whose parents were hippies, motioned to her friends. "I'm sorry they are being unkind. What we mean is, we won't remember Chaucer. We really don't need Chaucer."
"Yes," Liberty Ann said. "That's what we mean. Actually, it would be more useful to us, if you really were a chicken." The others nodded. "We are rather vapid individuals with no real prospects."
"Yes," Mallory agreed. "The eggs would really be helpful."
"Yes," Sunshine said, "more helpful than Chaucer."
"Why don't you try it?" Liberty Ann said. "Climb up on your teacher desk and try to lay an egg."
"Even a small one," Sunshine said. "Something we could crack open and fry."
"Or scramble," Mallory said.
"Yes, scramble," Liberty Ann said. "That makes much more sense."
Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy
and The Theory of Flesh
from Kelsay Books
. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologized in the most recent New Micro
(W.W. Norton) Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind
has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction
, and her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This
was recently published by Blue Light Press
. She lives in New York City.