Michael Shay

Welcome to Zan Xlemente, Zalifornia

My daughter M went to a nuthouse in San Clemente and all I got was this lousy metal keychain with CALIFORNIA writ large the blue of the sea under a gold-and-orange/red sun. M goes to the beach every afternoon, the only one of her group who swims, the only one who sticks her head underwater and body surfs the waves her arms cross-hatched with razor cuts her bloodstream salted with meds that start with X and Z. Why is it always X and Z? The drugs cause delusions and weight gain out there in Zan Xlemente, Zalifornia. My daughter calls and says she sometimes feels like a seal riding the waves. When she was five, her kindergarten teacher called and said can’t you do something about your daughter she thinks she’s a cat prowling the classroom on all fours and licking chalk dust from her arms. She meows answers to the teacher’s questions as she does with us. That’s progress I guess. Cats won’t go in the water and seals send us keychains from The Golden State.

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Michael Shay’s book of short stories, The Weight of a Body, was published by Denver’s Ghost Road Press in 2006. He lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.