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.
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.