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DS Levy ~ Talisman

When we first got mar­ried, some­one gave us a plas­tic pink flamin­go as a joke. We plant­ed it in the front yard next to the bar­ber­ry bush­es. For a while, every time I pulled into the dri­ve-way I’d see it and laugh: Hahaha. Or at least my lips would curl into a smile. Later, I’d pull in and not even notice.

Teddy did all the mow­ing, and by the end of sum­mer he was com­plain­ing about how the flamin­go was always in the way. He couldn’t get the mow­er close enough to cut the tall, strag­gly grass. And when the leaves fell, he com­plained that it got caught in the tines of the rake. Then, after the first big snow­fall, he’d almost run it over with the snow-blow­er.

The next spring, after the thaw, I saw the pink flamin­go sit­ting there and won­dered why the neigh­bor­hood kids hadn’t come along and stolen it yet when they’d man­aged to smash all the neigh­bor­hood jack-o-lanterns.

Years lat­er, we sold the house to a young cou­ple and Teddy said we should leave the flamin­go “as a gift.” But the kids begged us to pack it, and it was our real­tor who said it was good kar­ma to move a tal­is­man from the old loca­tion to the new.

The oth­er day my daugh­ter was help­ing me to pack up “essen­tials.” I’m mov­ing into an assist­ed liv­ing facility—it’s time. In the base­ment, we found the pink flamin­go in a card­board box. “Toss it?” she said, hold­ing it over the garbage pile. I looked at its sad, white-weath­ered body, saw the hole in its neck, and remem­bered that Teddy had done it one night with a ball peen ham­mer. Too much whiskey, recrim­i­na­tions. Always, when he drank, the sus­pi­cions, the accu­sa­tions. At first, he was sil­ly, and then turned mean. He laughed as he brought that ham­mer down, and I turned around and marched into the house, slam­ming the door behind me. The next morn­ing, as usu­al, he was sor­row­ful. He cried. I told him it was just a plas­tic lawn orna­ment. But he wouldn’t get rid of it. He car­ried it to the back­yard and plant­ed it in the gar­den to scare off the birds.

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DS Levy’s work has been pub­lished in New Flash Fiction Review, Little Fiction, MoonPark Review, Parhelion Literary Magazine, Cotton Xenomorph, Alaska Quarterly Review, Columbia, South Dakota Review, Brevity, The Pinch, and oth­ers. Her col­lec­tion of flash fic­tion, A Binary Heart, was pub­lished in 2017 by Finishing Line Press.