When I say Mary came along, I opened the door because she was knocking softly. I had never seen her before. She said “I’m Mary”. “Hey Mary, nice to meet you and… are you okay?” I said so unused to seeing humans in the flesh.
The voice felt unpracticed. When necessary I talked to humans on my phone or on my computer, but I hadn’t felt lonely until I saw Mary. Nobody had seen me in the flesh in years and one day Mary appears knocking lightly on my door—wearing a hedgehog mask. Stranger in hedgehog mask beckoning!
So, I followed Mary outside my house. The air felt fantastic. And there she was, a woman who seemed as peaceful as a hedgehog. I followed Mary outside like a feeling.
The night before, she explained, she had planted her husband in the backyard. When we got to Mary’s house she took me right back there and he was sniffling alone in the gloaming. This was his and Mary’s yard, filled with neglected looking fruit trees.
“Here’s a friend for you, Bill,” Mary said. He was sitting there in an unfashionable mask all tied up, and she left us there together. “Be back in a bit,” Mary said.
I asked him about Mary. “What is it about your wife?” I said. “Along she came,” he smiled, his lips fanning out in confirmation. I had never recognized how much I needed to be set free until Mary came along, I told him.
Mary came out, still in her mask, and asked us if we wanted some herbal tea. We both said, yes Mary! It was if we’d always wanted a hedgehog to make us a cup of herbal tea in the middle of a stinky yard.
Meg Pokrass is the author of eight flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash, an award winning collection of prose poetry, and a 2020 collection of microfiction, “Spinning to Mars” which won the Blue Light Book Award. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip and McSweeney’s has been anthologized in New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018), Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015) and The Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2019. She serves as Founding Co-Editor of Best Microfiction 2020 and Festival Curator of Flash Fiction Festival U.K. and teaches flash fiction online and in person. Find out more at megpokrass.com.