Karen Walker

Short Fiction

The dad is ice on the lake in the park. Says to his child and the mother of his child he’ll scout for thin spots, dark open water. He skates away. The hard grace of the hockey star he was. Strides stretched longer and longer by sudden fatherhood, a frozen relationship (still no ring), by a preemie. The cold-water walk-up where they’ve lived for eight years. At the end of the lake, he looks back. 

Mom? Snow. A snowflake — never the same twice. So the father of her child hurries home after work, leaping the apartment stairs two at a time. May find her crying at a Christmas movie or in a blizzard of her own, doing white powder lines. Other days, there’s a flurry in the kitchen: mashed potatoes and vanilla cupcakes, the rusty old fridge defrosted.

The child is the skates. Thrift store scruffy, a size smaller than she should be. The leather more yellow than white.

But she’s one sharp little blade. Tempered steel, even temperamental this morning when the ice said no skating today, honey. Dad’s worked midnights all week. The mom, shivering, said too cold. 

They went. Warmer on a lake in December than in the apartment after a no.

Karen Walker writes in a low Canadian basement. Her work is in or forthcoming in FlashBack Fiction, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Emerge Literary Journal, Bullshit Lit, Blank Spaces, JAKE, Janus Literary, miniskirt mag, and others. She/her. @MeKawalker883.

Photo Credit: Someus Christopher on Unsplash

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