Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 46
autumnal equinox, 2022

Featured artwork, The City, by Koss

New Works

Francine Witte


My father was 20 feet tall. So, there's that.
My mother built him a special house in the backyard. She had to cut away all the trees.
Life is balance, she would say. Good days, bad days, it's still your life. Don't scrunch up your nose at not one part of it.
My father would stick his huge hand, the size of a couch cushion, through the window at mealtime, and my mother would load it up with plates of bacon or hot dogs or chops. He'd blow her a kiss and take the food back to his house in our treeless yard.
The hardest part, my mother said, was that this was the only time she saw him anymore. He didn't fit in our house, and her going to my father's house in the backyard only reminded her of her favorite trees.
Soon, the other women showed up, lines of them. All of them having heard about my twenty-foot father. All of them curious about, well, you know.
My mother didn't worry. She would sit in a rocking chair on the front porch. She would sit there except for meal time when my father would show up again. She would sit there and rock back and forth in the balance of love, then not love, then love.

Dad Always Looked Like a Mountain

Or a billy goat climbing the mountain, or a group of climbers at the top of the mountain. All of it huge and not speaking to us.
Mom shrugged and made breakfast. She would ask the mountain if it wanted coffee even though it never answered her, of course. How could it? Mountains have no mouths, billy goats have no words, and the climbers can't waste their thin-air breath on my silly hopeful mother.
My brothers and I were used to it all. Dad on the evening couch, sports humming the TV, evening newspapers moving up and down across his snoozy chest. Later, we knew the billy goat part of Dad would eat the newspapers, but not before the climber part checked the paper to see if there was a story about them.
One night, though, Dad didn't come home. We all pretended to be sad, but we knew it was a party. Mom stringing the walls with crepe paper, relieved that Dad wouldn't eat it. Happy that she could stop asking a silent mountain if it wants coffee every damn day. Happy to block out the climbers' constant chatter and high-fiving.
Only my brother, sitting in the corner, seemed sad for real, his almost-hoof growing inside his converse sneaker, though we didn't see it, his face going sullen and rockcraggy, his fingers quietly climbing his chest.

Francine Witte's flash fiction has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review and Passages North. She has stories upcoming in "Best Small Fictions 2021" and "Flash Fiction America" (W.W. Norton.) Her latest books are "Dressed All Wrong for This" (Blue Light Press), "The Way of the Wind" (AdHoc fiction) and "The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon" (ELJ Editions,) She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. She lives in NYC.