Myna Chang ~ Daily Special

Not much to see in Tascadora, Texas. Rough strip of road, two liquor stores, three church­es. The Happy Harvest Grocery, its park­ing lot smooth as buttercream.

Tessa holes-up in her mini­van next to the cart return cage. Red vel­vet is the cake of the day. She scoops a glob of frost­ing with her fin­gers, sucks away the sheen. Artificial sweet­ness limns her cuticles.

In the next row, Dottie Stine yells into her phone. A shock of yel­low hair is snagged in the grille of her van. Could be deer hide, Tessa thinks. Or fur from the Garcias’ dumb­struck gold­en­doo­dle; hadn’t it gone miss­ing last week? Maybe it’s a wedge of Dottie’s husband’s scalp. That glint of white, there by the Chrysler logo, is that a shard of bone? Tessa gouges her fin­gers into the cake, rais­es the rigid clamshell con­tain­er to her lips.

Constance Barnes slides into the hand­i­capped spot. She keeps her motor run­ning. Tessa watch­es as a boy no old­er than 17 lopes out of the alley behind the store. His thighs look like they could go all night. He approach­es Constance’s car, smiles fresh. There’s a quick hand­off of cash and Tessa won­ders if he’s sell­ing pot. Or, she thinks, maybe it’s those night-long legs that are on offer.

Constance cracks open her car door, leans out. Slashes a bright knife across the boy’s thigh. He hiss­es, clutch­es the wet gash on his leg. Constance guns her engine. Her tires sing as she launch­es out of the park­ing lot.

Tessa’s eyes fol­low the fold­ed cash. It dis­ap­pears into the boy’s pock­et. He gri­maces, teeth glint­ing like chrome. Tessa swal­lows the last of the vel­vet, licks plas­ti­cized but­ter­cream from the palm of her hand. Wonders how much he charges per slice.


Myna Chang (she/her) is the author of The Potential of Radio and Rain. Her writ­ing has been select­ed for Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep spec­u­la­tive fic­tion read­ing series. See more at or @MynaChang.