by Gabrielle Griffis

I’m trying to work my way backwards. You take plane flights to untangle yourself. I pull hair from the shower drain.


The dog dies in winter. Your mother vows she will never own another. She shows me a video loop of a murmuration. Birds fly out of the trees.


Sitting on the dock, plastic bags look like jellyfish underwater. There’s a piano buried in sand behind the thrift store. The guys at the candy shop do drugs in a backroom.


In a dark car, you ask about my fantasies. I want to say, “To turn into a flower and be pollinated by bees.”

You ask if I want to come inside. I drive home, down an empty highway dotted with lights across saltmarsh and scrub pine.


There was more rain last year.


We are in the kitchen dancing. Rosa rugosa petals fall in the yard. The dog’s hips are giving out.  The in-dent of her body in bed. We walk her favorite path. She’s named after an apple.


I bought a bathing suit on the drive. You stuff your bike in my trunk.


We wade into the ocean. We wade out. You lie on a towel. I cover your body with shells and rocks. Sun heats quartz.


I find prickly pear cactus flowering at the edge of the bay the day we walk the beach looking for you.


Dim lights. Dining room.


Your mother talks about crimes of passion at the dinner table.

You look at her with disgust.

You’ll probably forget this all happened, but I won’t.


At the swap shop, old women squabble over an antique clock. A man barks because you wander into his trash trailer. I find a book about sacred circles full of pictures of wreaths.

“I’m sorry I brought you here,” you say, sighing between racks of moldy clothes.

I show you the circle book.

I want to create meaning out of irrelevant signs because nihilism hasn’t taken over my life yet.


Roads meander through barren trees. We dance where there used to be pews with a woman who’s mad she’s old.  You show up.


I do laundry.


You’re in a beach house on the edge of a marsh. Sun sets over cordgrass. Harsh gusts. Winding through forest. Dust covered knicknacks. Peeling floral wallpaper, a bad collage appreciated only by the beach bum you adopted like a stray cat. In an upstairs room reading on a floor mattress, the wind howls. Maple in the front yard. Snow falling, snow melting. Hellebore emerging, wilting. Rose mallow. The summer waning, the summer dying.


You think I like your long hair, but I don’t.


At the film festival, you make friends with everyone. In the car you talk about cultures absent of judgment-based language. In the vestibule you wear a dirty red coat.


I say that’s my job


You say that’s sweet of you.


I tell you what I am going to do.


You tell me what you want to do.


I answer the phone.


You call.

Gabrielle Griffis is a musician, writer and multimedia artist. She works as a librarian. Her fiction has been published in Wigleaf, Split Lip, Matchbook, Monkeybicycle, CHEAP POP, XRAY, The Rumpus, Okay Donkey and elsewhere. Her work has been selected for Best Microfiction 2022 and has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize. Read more at or follow at @ggriffiss.