is that he stinks. Inside he’s still a little boy who doesn’t want to shower. Outside he’s been living in the sewers. So, when he’s sneaking around the house she shares with her granddaughter, she can smell him. The odor of a man who doesn’t brush his teeth and eats garbage, a man whose hair is slick with oil and sweat, a man whose body odor fills a room. A walking sewer system. It doesn’t require a trained fighter to sense when he’s coming for her. Just a steady hand and resolve. Boys always want what they can’t have. Michael is no different. He’ll come and come and come until one of them is in a grave. It won’t be Laurie.
Chelsea Stickle is the author of the flash fiction chapbooks Everything’s Changing (Thirty West Publishing, 2023) and Breaking Points (Black Lawrence Press, 2021). Her stories appear in CHEAP POP, CRAFT, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and others. She lives in Annapolis, MD with her black rabbit George and a forest of houseplants. Read more at chelseastickle.com and find her on Twitter @Chelsea_Stickle.