Reduced to flattened images, they falter their farewells in blurry living rooms around the globe. Sing a few bars, blow a few kisses.
Love you, Mom.
Love you, Gramma.
They scan their screens for a response from the blue-swathed figure in the bed. Clear tubes connect her to plastic udders. As if she is an elderly cow, being milked of her breath.
The doctor’s visored face blocks their view. I’m sorry, everyone. His trapped eyes cast around for something else to say. I’m sorry.
The blue curtains close. The play is over.
On rudderless nights, her nightmares moan like shipwrecked sailors. She dives to the bottom of the bed to rescue them. They fear the moon has turned metallic blue, grown red spikes. If it breathes on you, you’re a goner, they tell each other. She finds them hiding beneath a shoal of cast-off bed socks. Gathers them to her flannel chest, rocks them back to sleep with broken sea shanties. Go down, you blood-red roses, go down.
Think mood music with a pucker of dissonance. Banjo synthesizer, electronic zither. Think meditation on gold lurex cushions in a drafty community center. Giving the mindfulness police the slip, listening to coughs and fidgets, wondering what to make for dinner.
Think again. Microscopic protein spikes, translated into sound. Think how the algorithm assigned each amino acid a note, cat’s-cradled the melody between nerveless fingers. Musical hashish to melt the doors of breath, jangled fever snarl, replication syncopation, fade-out to organ failure.
Think tracking down your mother’s killer, circling the house, just another suburban bungalow with a feral lawn, hearing his off-key singing in the shower. Go down, you blood-red roses, go down.
Faye Brinsmead’s flash fiction appears or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, New Flash Fiction Review, Spelk, MoonPark Review, Reflex Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, and other places. “Among my molecules”, her poetry e-chapbook, is published by proletaria. She lives in Australia and tweets @ContesdeFaye.