Meg Pokrass ~ Three Flash Fictions

Ethel’s Pot Belly

A beguil­ing, hat-wear­ing woman of forty, Ethel once liked the way she could appear skin­ny or roly-poly to oth­er women, depend­ing on how hos­tile they seemed. The slope of Ethel’s pot bel­ly was so flex­i­ble she could eas­i­ly hide it inside design­er sports girdles.

Ethel’s IQ was so high that she bumped into walls. Often dis­tract­ed by inven­tions and var­i­ous math­e­mat­i­cal the­o­ries, she knocked over chi­na and bashed into small children.

Ethel dumped her wor­ries about her per­son­al life on her women friends who like­wise hid their bellies.

Ethel need­ed a new set of wheels to light­en things up. Nothing seemed promis­ing now. Her Buick had final­ly died, as had her most promis­ing suit­or, Hubert Linzer, last Easter. Ethel was still see­ing a bereave­ment ther­a­pist. She had an aver­sion to hol­i­days in gen­er­al, and noth­ing sur­prised her about dis­as­ters on or around all of them. But this one, with Hubert, a man she almost cared for, dying right next to her. This real­ly sucked.

Ethel and Hubert had been out on their sixth date danc­ing to live music over at The Ribbon that Saturday night before Easter. The Asthmatic Puffs, a local band every­one raved about, were in top form. This was to be their sec­ond whole night spent together.

That night, after undress­ing, Hubert left the lights on and closed the blinds. “My lit­tle Easter chick,” he said, fond­ly. Hubert moist­ened his lips as he approached Ethel, hun­gry for her. She was loung­ing naked and unen­cum­bered on her flo­ral-print divan.

Hubert stood star­ing down at Ethel’s naked splen­dor with the car­ing face of an apothe­cary. Minutes lat­er though, his expres­sion changed into a gauzy glare. He stood star­ing at her pot bel­ly as though it were a snake or a strange breed of wild dog. Some weird Rorschach test, Ethel’s bel­ly appeared dif­fer­ent to every man who loved her.

Your bel­ly has one creepy eye sock­et!” Hubert gasped.


A p…p… peephole!”

Hubert, she found out too late, had a fatal heart con­di­tion. “He would have died any­way,” the hand­some bereave­ment ther­a­pist said, smil­ing kind­ly at Ethel’s bel­ly, think­ing that it looked deli­cious, like his late moth­er’s york­shire puddings.


Monster Story

It seemed made of satin at first, as do shiny wid­ows. Once it had you in its ten­ta­cles, only then did one real­ize it hat­ed its own mol­e­cules, sat on them to make them bleed, sat on them until they screamed “We are…er… your own mol­e­cules, bitch!”

It lived to:

  1. devour vil­lagers with small dreams
  2. watch reruns of House while pulling wings off fireflies

Many believed it decid­ed to cre­ate a cake of nutrasweet and arsenic for every hus­band. Nobody was sure if it real­ly had “hus­bands,” but the vil­lagers of Lucklorn like to imag­ine so, it was fun!

To imag­ine how it blind­ed the hus­band while mas­sag­ing him with love-foam, perk­ing him up a bit first (in the place where he had long been shriv­elled) then swap­ping the activ­i­ty for cake. Beads of sweat may have blushed on a hus­band’s brow as his man-mus­cle curled like a Fiddlehead fern. He may have screamed, “I am not a firefly!”

As its acclaim grew, tourists piled in, and local light­en­ing bugs and smart men (real sci­en­tists) dis­ap­peared. The vil­lagers both hat­ed and loved this myth. Some craved the thrill of wit­ness­ing it in the throws of staged, painful non-pas­sion. They believe it all hap­pens overnight. Therefore, tourists do not nap or make daisy chains. They stay alert to see it in true form..


Sex and Lemongrass

One thing I look for­ward to, every after­noon, is a lemon grass soda. Nobody believes there is such a soda, so I don’t talk about it. There is only one store that still sells them, absurd­ly expensive.

While enjoy­ing my soda, I say to Pearl, “I find sex to be incred­i­bly hard to talk about.”

Pearl is a rat.

Pearl pees on my shirts after too much hold­ing, but she is very easy going.

I try talk­ing to my moth­er. “Mom I still find sex to be incred­i­bly hard to talk about.” She has been dead for some time, and she agrees.


Something about sex in my mar­riage does not work any­more. It has to do with smelling mon­ey. Money has an odor. An odor that makes my hus­band feel things are alright. An odor which to him means “yay”.

His is so wealthy, mon­ey is all over the floor, it falls out of his pock­ets and I some­times slip on it. He makes a path of twen­ty-dol­lar bills that lead to the kitchen and out the door to the tree under­neath where our dog is buried.


The fel­low I most fero­cious­ly want to mate with is near­ly home­less, can’t afford heat, and does­n’t want me that way (at all).

I tell him this:

I’m mar­ried though my hus­band has lost his brain and body in the war and his wounds make him hard to kiss and cud­dle with.

The man is not inter­est­ed in my sense of humor, but he calls me “amus­ing”.

If I am being truth­ful, there is more than one home­less guy I have wanted.


Meg Pokrass is the author of 8 flash col­lec­tions. Her work was recent­ly select­ed to appear in The Best Small Fictions, 2022, and will be includ­ed in Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton & Co., 2023).