Just Us Two by Jayne Martin

The morning sun warms our one-bedroom apartment. After bouncing from relative to relative, it’s just Mommy and me. Mommy has put up curtains, white with daisies embroidered along the edges like those I pick from gardens. He loves me. He loves me not.

For the first time, I make friends. Every day after school I go play with Franny. Her large stone and brick house has kids hollering, running around, and hanging out of every window. There’s always a big pitcher of Kool-Aid in their refrigerator. I can help myself, like I’m one of the family, and no one ever asks where my dad is.

Franny is the youngest. She has six older sisters and brothers and another baby is on the way. There’s always another on the way. They’re Catholic. And now so am I even though I don’t really know what that means. Sometimes Franny still sucks her thumb.

We dig a big hole in the corner of her backyard. “All the way to China!” we shout. We climb a tree, sit on the lowest branch sucking on Pixie Stix. We talk about the movie stars we will marry, our houses next door to each other. Franny wants four kids. I don’t want any.

There are tons of hiding places and hide-and-seek goes on for hours. Curled in the back of her parent’s closet, I slip my feet inside her dad’s slippers. I imagine never being found. Franny’s mom telling mine, “I’m sorry. We looked and looked.”

“Just Us Two” was written in November 2020 in Meg’s “The Loss Detector” workshop and inspired by her story from that book “We Could Have Landed Anywhere.”

I’m thrilled to be included in this issue honoring Meg. So many of the stories from my flash fiction collection, “Tender Cuts,” came out of her workshops. An inspiring teacher and an encouraging friend, Meg always manages to get stories out of me that I would never have written otherwise.

Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her collection of microfiction, Tender Cuts, published by Vine Leaves Press is available now. She lives in the hills above Santa Barbara, California, where she enjoys riding horses and drinking copious amounts of fine wine, though not at the same time. Find her at:  www.jaynemartin-writer.com Twitter: @Jayne_Martin. Facebook: Jayne Martin-Author

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