Friday, 4 May 2018

Broken Wings

by Karen Schauber

Janice woke up early. She meant to scrounge around for the sewing kit the night before but fell asleep with the bottle in her hand, again. She rummaged in the hall closet and pulled down the blue Samsonite from its upper perch. It wasn’t inside. Rifling through the stale pile of winter blankets in the laundry hamper also drew a blank. The last place she bothered to check was the cabinet under the bathroom sink. She got down on all fours pulling out the Ajax and spray bottles, flinging mouldy scrubs and crumpled toothpaste tubes behind her, and spilling the half-corked Pine Sol as she grabbed past the crushed box of sanitary napkins, feeling for the kit. A waft of chemical potpourri sent her reeling.  She put none of the wreckage back. 

Janice was getting right pissed off and needed a cigarette. Her familiar sense of defeat was almost in full swing, but she managed to keep her usual histrionics at bay and instead pulled on her shabby-chic pea jacket, stepped barefoot into clogs, and shuffled out the door to 7/11.

There wasn’t a lot of time and the kids might wake up before she got back. ‘They best not wander around the row houses looking for her, like the last time she left them alone and CPS showed up.’ - She promised herself that she would be quick. She would not hang around to chat, or to bum a cigarette. After all it was only the sewing kit she was after. 

She scurried past the low buildings and nasty bins down to the corner. Her unkempt hair plastered to the side of her face fazed no one. The neighbours had seen her in all her glory many times before. Harold was at the counter when she breezed in. He did not look pleased to see her. He watched her like a hawk whenever she came in, ready for her to swipe any number of items. She was straight up with him this time. “Do you have a sewing kit? It‘s my daughter’s first day at school and I have something special for her.” It wasn’t cigarettes she was after. Her simple honesty surprised him, and he came out from behind the counter to help her find the home supply items in aisle three. Without skipping a beat, she grabbed the package of needles and thread, slapped her food stamps card down on the counter, and waved off the offer of a bag.  

Janice made a beeline home. It was still quiet in the flat. In a few moments the little’uns would overrun her whining for something to eat, their bellies empty and needing filling. They would have to wait. She had more important stuff to do. She plunked herself down on the sofa and pulled the pink sparkly dress out from the cellophane bag. Janice didn’t feel half bad about nicking it from Marshalls. It was real fancy and she knew she’d scored a real prize. Laying it out flat, she was careful not to crush the ruffles or crinoline underneath. Her nimble fingers gently repositioned the broken wings on the seam, and with needle and thread brought the fairy princess back to life. Daisy would be over the moon. She would be the prettiest girl on the first day of school. 

Janice did good. She grabbed for her cigarettes and a fresh beer, and put her feet up. Parenting was damn hard work.

* * * * *

Karen Schauber is a seasoned Family Therapist practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her earlier writing is non-fiction and details three decades of psychosocial and analytical cases. Flash Fiction is a new and welcome adventure for her. Fictional short stories are much more fun to read and write! 

As an emerging artist, Karen hones her craft at home and at the dog beach on the west coast (when it’s not pouring out). The upcoming Group of Seven Flash Fiction Anthology is her first editorial novella-in-flash venture. Karen’s flash fiction can be read at, at Spillwords, Blood PuddlesAdHoc Fiction, and forthcoming at Yellow Mama

She can be reached directly at:

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