Meg Pokrass ~ The Plank

It was wet and cold and mis­er­able, and his dog was fat. Fatter than yes­ter­day. Nobody need­ed a tele­scope to see how the dog was overfed, his snout buried in his own neck.

The cap­tain, bit­ing on his pipe, asked her to take off her bon­net. She removed it, and he inspect­ed her scalp for but­ter­flies. “Clear,” he said.

Then, it was time, and she walked up the nar­row stairs to the top deck as if to scout for land.

It was dark­er than before. The cap­tain told her not to imag­ine escapes or roundtrip tickets.

Never,” she repeated.

This had some­thing to do with how she made the cap­tain feel things he did­n’t want to feel. He whis­pered this to her on his birth­day, danc­ing on deck. She had known it already. She did­n’t say the right words, should have said, “I am hon­ored.” He had the com­plex­ion of a root veg­etable, rut­ty and orange. She wished she too were plain. She did not want to make him feel ugli­er but had done so by being alive.

She explained it to her­self as if she could talk it over. She said it to her­self in bub­bles of thought. This kind of exis­tence nev­er worked for long. He cra­dled a sword.

It is time,” he said.

Shaking on the plank bal­anced her and she remem­bered her child­hood like a dream she hadn’t had in years. She stepped off hold­ing on to that dream. Her last thought was how when peo­ple die, they come back as mon­ey, some­thing her moth­er used to say. If you hap­pen to notice a pen­ny on the ground, it may be some­one who used to love you.


Meg Pokrass is the author of six flash fic­tion col­lec­tions and a forth­com­ing 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 as well as the Wigleaf Top 50 and The Best Small Fictions. She serves as Series Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.