This week our stunted man hobbles around the house wearing fluffy, taped-together slippers. It appears as if he has broken a toe. Last week, he was a braying like a donkey, and the week before that, he appeared in the living room, wearing a saffron robe and praying. We feel lucky that he has chosen our home to be stunted in, and we roll with his changing ideas of himself.
Since the man has moved in, I notice how our walls are the color of stomach medicine, and that our lighting fixtures are unsightly—one of them has no shade, it’s just a bulb, which dangles from the ceiling like a goose. In the bedroom, an economy-model light fixture so weak that he claims he can’t find his socks. Sometimes he’ll pretend to be blind and he’ll gather his socks with his eyes closed. We know our house needs help.
Friends ask nosy questions:
How did you meet him? When is he planning to leave?
Of course we don’t have an answer, so we smile securely, which seems to shut them up.
Each week offers a new kind of entertainment. I find myself wondering if stringing fairy lights around the stunted man’s waist would be decorative. We may ask him to take part in a Nativity display at Christmas time.
“He’d make a terrific Joseph,” my husband says.
This is what I’m thinking too, though perhaps we aren’t very realistic.
Meg Pokrass has published stories in McSweeney’s, Five Points, Wigleaf, Smokelong, and over 230 other literary magazines online and in print. Her work has been internationally anthologized, most recently in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton, 2015) and forthcoming in New Microfiction (W.W. Norton, 2018). Meg received the Blue Light Book Award for her collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas (Blue Light Press, 2016). Her other collections include Damn Sure Right, My Very End of the Universe, Bird Envy and The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down. Meg is the flash fiction curator for Great Jones Street App, and curates the Bath Flash Fiction Festival (Bath, U.K.).