Gentian Violet by Liz Rosen

While I held our daughter’s bleeding index finger high over the kitchen sink, I knew that somewhere on the highway, you were driving to work, listening for word of catastrophes on NPR or unironically singing the words of an 80’s song made-over by a country boy.

While the dog got underfoot, her white fur streaking red as she lapped the blood from the floor, I knew that no amount of shampoo would completely clean it and I’d have to shave it all off.

While our daughter wailed with the shock of learning that she was just another source of food for her beloved pet, I knew the heartbreak of a mother experiencing her child seeing the thing behind the thing.

While I shush-ed and it’s ok-ed, and reached for the damp kitchen towel that still sat on the counter instead of having been put in the washing machine liked I’d asked a hundred times, I knew that somewhere in the house I had band-aids, but probably not gentian violet which my own mother would never have been without in the house where I had grown up.

While I wrapped the damp towel around my daughter’s finger, which resembled nothing so much as a ripe plum slashed open, I knew I could make it to the nearest emergency room in fifteen minutes, if I needed to, if there wasn’t traffic.

While I spit a dozen curses at the knife that had done the injury, I knew that in some circles it was considered silliness to blame the wrong thing for the accident, the affair, the mistake, but I did it and didn’t care that I had.

While the red bloom soaked into the connective tissue of the fabric I held tight against her skin and I kicked at the dog and I cursed my mother for her unfailing preparedness in all things but one, I knew that despite all my assurances to my daughter, it was not going to be alright, that you and I would separate, you taking the dog, me taking her, and all of us would be like my mother and the dog, prepared for the wrong things, and having to start anew.

Liz Rosen is a former Nickelodeon TV writer and a current short story writer with a penchant for YouTube ghost-hunting shows. Color-wise, she’s an Autumn. Music-wise, she’s an MTV-baby. She is a native New Orleanian, and a transplant to small-town Pennsylvania. She misses her Gulf oysters and etouffee, but is appreciative of snow and colorful scarves. Her stories have appeared in or are forthcoming in journals such as Atticus Review, Philadelphia Stories, Pithead Chapel, Writer’s Digest, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Iron Horse, Ascent, and numerous others. Learn more at

grayscale photo of lost dog sitting on grass

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels.

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