by Kristen MacKenzie

Did you ever go into a quiet little pizza place on a side street, the kind where the waitresses wear trucker’s caps and skinny jeans and everyone has a tattoo? And when you were finished with your indulgent pepperoni and beer, did you wander through the tables pushed too close to get to the bathrooms in the back? Yes, but when you did, did you see the pinball machine with its action hero display and flashing lights? The quarters you should have put in the tip jar are heavy in your pocket aren’t they? Just one game. You have time.

You slide the change into the slots and then what do you do? Pull back on the knob on the right. Pull hard. The harder you pull, the further that ball goes. Watch the coil of shiny wire, compressed to the max. Now let it go.

*  *  *

I watched him watching other women, the way their tits bounced as they jogged around the lake. “Why do you have to do that?” I said. “Baby, as long as I’m alive, I’m looking.” So I started looking too. The coils begin to tighten.

I let two weeks go by, slapping his hand away. “Baby, come on.” The shape of me is pressing into a smaller and smaller space.

“If you won’t have me, I’ll find someone who will.” Flashing lights at the edge of my vision; I want to launch myself.

 Two hour long “communication sessions” every week, ten years passed by, and I sat on the couch watching him until there was only the outline of a man, any man. Who get’s to be hero here?

 When we moved, he swore it would be different. But we were still the same. The coils press flat, nowhere left to go.

I never really stopped looking. “Baby, as long as I’m alive…” And then I saw her, the shape of me, the shape of her, not any woman, this woman, now. Launch.


Kristen MacKenzie lives on Vashon Island in a quiet cabin where the shelves are filled with herbs for medicine-making, the floor is open for dancing, and the table faces the ocean, waiting for a writer to pick up the pen. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Rawboned, GALA, Extract(s) Daily Dose of Lit, Maudlin House, Blank Fiction, Cease, Cows, Crack the Spine, NAILED and is included monthly in Diversity Rules. Pieces are forthcoming in Bluestockings, Minerva Rising , MadHat Annual, and Crab Fat. Her short story, “Cold Comfort,” placed in Honorable Mention in The Women’s National Book Association’s annual writing contest.

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