John Sheirer lives in Western Massachusetts and is in his 30th year of teaching at Asnuntuck Community College in Northern Connecticut where he edits Freshwater Literary Journal (submission welcome). His work has appeared recently in Wilderness House Literary Review, Meat for Tea, Poppy Road Review, Synkroniciti, Otherwise Engaged, 10 By 10 Flash Fiction, The Journal of Radical Wonder, Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, and Goldenrod Review. His latest book is Stumbling Through Adulthood: Linked Stories. Find him at JohnSheirer.com.
As the station wagon glided along the blacktop, seven-year-old Andy gazed out the backseat window.
“I love how the road follows this path through the mountains,” Andy mused. “The road goes exactly where nature meant it to go.”
Andy’s parents, Roy and Stella, exchanged a glance in the front seat.
“It’s beautiful,” Andy said.
Roy inhaled, prepared to tell his son about picks and shovels, about machinery and explosives, about the ways humans bend the earth to their whims.
Stella touched Roy’s arm. “Let the boy have this, Roy,” she said.
Roy paused, then nodded. “Okay. But just for now.”
“Jenny!” Ellen called upstairs to her daughter for the fourth time in five minutes. “Come down! Andy brought ice cream, and yours is melting.”
Normally, Jenny would be the first in line for ice cream, the magic substance that made problems go away. Any flavor. Like a miracle.
Not tonight. “Maybe later!” Jenny yelled, stalling.
Andy was Ellen’s new boyfriend, but Jenny still called him “Mr. Donaldson.” No amount of ice cream could make up for a tenth-grader’s mom dating the high school principal—especially considering the grades on the report card Jenny had snatched from their mailbox that afternoon.
Three Little Words
Wayne and Jackson cracked open beers and admired the yard in the gathering dusk.
“Your leaf blower game rules,” Wayne said.
“You rocked that rake,” Jackson replied as they bumped fists.
They’ll return to their offices tomorrow, pretend they enjoy wearing suits.
“I love you,” Jackson said.
“Love you, too,” Wayne responded.
After a moment, Jackson said, “It’s okay to say that, right?”
Wayne nodded, “It’s true.”
“It’s what it’s,” Jackson said.
“What?” Wayne asked.
“It is what it is,” Jackson said, air quoting. “It’s what it’s”
“Never thought of that,” Wayne said, offering a beer can toast. “Good one.”