Song of a Flightless Bird

Contemporary Fiction, Flash. 1200 words.

Amelia has been taking care of her disabled husband for years, her resentment growing apace with his infirmity. When an opportunity arises to run from her circumstances, she must decide what sort of person she truly is.


An Excerpt:

  Amelia lowered her husband into their double bed—his naked, cachexic body cradled in the polyester sling of their Hoyer lift. As the plush mattress accepted his feeble weight, his contracted legs splayed, exposing a mound of unkempt pubic hair and a flaccid penis, demurely tucked to one side. A musky smell of salted dairy wafted into her face, and she had to work hard to suppress a reflexive cough. Once upon a time, twenty years earlier, this area had been a source of great pleasure for her. Now it was a source of bladder infections and obligation.
  When the bed had taken all of him, she cut off the descent of the lift before its cross-brace could crush his scrawny throat. She unhooked the sling, slid it out from beneath him, removed the lift.
  Then began the tightrope act of rolling his body to and fro, adjusting limbs and pillows, always a millimeter away from a mistake and a full redo from the top. As she did this, he stared at the ceiling, unable to turn his head and look at her due to a lifetime of muscle wasting. He didn’t talk much out of his wheelchair, a victim of a near-catatonic loss of control. She didn’t blame him. For any of it. But that didn’t stop her from hating him.

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