All Saints Day
She was by my side at the front door in an instant. Big breathing noisily, a lit cigarette in the corner of her mouth.
“May I help you, Deputy?” she asked and began to cough. I grabbed her hand; the two of us filled the doorway.
“Pauline A. Lafky?” The man stared hard over Mom’s shoulder. I checked behind us, but the hallway was empty. She nodded. He handed her a wad of folded pages wrapped in blue. “You’ve been served.”
He turned around and clumped down the narrow wooden stairs, his riot baton smacking the handrail.
My mother unfolded the papers and began to cry. My father appeared at the foot of the stairs with my birthday present under one arm. He looked silly with long hair and a wild shirt. He turned sideways to pass the deputy on his way up.
“It’s the first of the month, Paulie,” he said extending a hand toward my mother. “I forgot they serve on the first.” She stared at him, tears falling. He turned to me. “Happy sixteenth birthday, Kiddo.” His mouth was framed by a new, dirty mustache.
“I don’t want anything from you,” I said and turned to walk back into the house. My mother’s nails bit into my wrist. I gasped and turned back. She took a last drag, then flicked her cigarette past him, over the handrail, and exhaled a blue cloud.
“Hush, child. The man brought you a gift.”
KARYN POWERS is a writer of flash fiction, poetry, and humorous essays. Her work has been featured in Writers Digest Show Us Your Shorts short story collection, Poems from Farmers Valley, Mush, and Red Cedar literary magazines, and Hummingbird, the magazine of the short poem. She currently resides in north-central Wisconsin and shares a 1927 craftsman’s cottage with her husband and two labs.