End of Days as the Dairy Queen by Morgana MacLeod

Momma wears her memories like a ratty robe, worn patches rubbed shiny on the seat, diverse stains obscuring the lapels. Between you and me, Momma’s mind is the kind you shouldn’t wear out in public but there’s principles and there’s practical and anyone will tell you I never had what you might call high-grade standards. Here’s a for instance – some people call them dust bunnies, those tumbleweeds of dirt under the sofa? Momma always called it slut’s wool, and I am proud to be that slut. Where’s the pleasure in moving furniture to vacuum someplace only you will know you’ve been? I’d just as soon spend that time batting my lashes at someone else’s handsome man. Time was we would have butted heads over housekeeping, but nowadays Momma don’t mind the grit in the carpet as she shuffles the trailer end to end, looking for her husband, “Where’s your Father?”

I’ve done some training. Reminisce, don’t remember.

“He was the bravest man I know,” I’ll reply, “When you met him, he was a rodeo clown.”

The clouds in her eyes part for a beam of clarity, “I was taking tickets for the Haunted House.”

“You married in the Midway, after-hours. And instead of a bridal waltz…”

“We rode the Cha Cha!” Giggling, Momma spins until her dodgem car feet tangle but it is never long until, tears queuing in the pouches beneath her eyes, she frets me for a trip into town, fetch Daddy a pouch of chewing tobacco.

We only get as far as the Dairy Queen. Momma won’t go past the giant bananas they got dangling off the sign.

“Ain’t decent, hanging right there in broad daylight, half undressed.”

“Momma, what’s decent for fruit, anyhow? They still got peel downtown.”

“Your Daddy curled over at the tip, just like that.”

Not one lick of use shooshing her, I know that much, “Well, I can see the appeal.”

“Why the Good Lord take them nekkid fruit and not my poor soul. Have pity on us sinners!” Momma fold one chicken wing arm cross her mashed potato chest, hold the other one high, waiting for Jesus to reach on down and haul her home.

“Momma, it’s fibreglass and wires. Not the Rapture. C’mon now.”

There’s a row of gawking lunchers, other side of the plate glass front windows, lips stretched wide around forgotten mouthfuls. My face swims, reflecting in the line-up. For just one floating moment, I am one a them empty-headed laughing clowns.

Morgana Macleod was born peculiar, in a time when no-one paid attention. Literary influences range from Angela Carter, Tobsha Learner and Umberto Eco to 70s Penthouse letters via the Fortean Times. She now lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia where her hobbies include raising two boys, carnivorous plants, and Afro-Caribbean syncretic religions.

Publications include Undercurrents anthology and two Stringbark Press collections of prize-winners, Between Heaven and Hell (flash) and Between the Sheets (erotica). Her flash fiction appears in Thumbnail 5 and Thumbnail 6.

Her work can be found online at sites including New Flash Fiction Review, Medium and outofthegutteronline.com. She’s toying with writing a novel but concerned about the limits of her own attention span. Feel free to stalk her on Facebook (Morgana MacLeod) and Twitter @morganamacleod.

Vintage dairy queen exterior with people waiting ouptside
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