A Good Mechanic by Linnie Green

1. The light bulb above the bathroom vanity. It’s been out for months.2. Chester’s cage — he’s shedding again.

3. The back left tire on Dad’s old Ford. Dale tried to teach me that, but sometimes I resign myself before I even learn how to do something. I am too old to learn new things. Like auto repairs or math. It was a day last spring, one of the first that felt warm enough to wear shorts, and we had just eaten sandwiches. We were about to fall asleep when Dale sat up and walked out the screen door. I heard him out back, fiddling with the tools in the old barn, and then I got up and followed him to the truck.

“Here,” he said, “like this.” And hoisted the car several inches so that the tire was levitating above the gravel. He removed two pins, and left two for me to twist out of their sockets so that the tire would come loose.

“You do it,” I said.

He got angry with me because I wouldn’t even try. Just like math or a running toilet, when there’s a problem I can’t understand, I close the door and will it into the ether. Sometimes, this works. This did not work with Dale.

4. How easily I fall in love, as if I have never been in love before.

5. How easily I fall out of love, as if I have never been in love before.

6. The furniture in the downstairs living room. When we were married, we had a television. All of the couches and chairs faced it, like planets ready to orbit. There is nowhere to sit anymore that doesn’t force your gaze onto the gaping hole where the television used to be. I tried to hang a painting there, but it only looked like a broken TV.

7. The china. We got it for the wedding. It’s dainty and fragile, covered in tiny yellow and purple pansies. I broke a saucer when I was reaching into the cabinet last week and cut my hand. The blood ran dark for a few minutes, and now there is an angry scar on the fattest part of my palm. It smarts every time I twist a door handle or hold a pencil. I’ll wrap all the pieces that haven’t broken in old bath towels and tissue paper and store them in the attic, and maybe I will go to Wal-Mart and buy a set that’s sturdier.

8. My hair. I will let the man I’m sleeping with cut it off and throw it into the woods. Like lint from the dryer or pieces of twine, I’ll find it in the birds’ nests later that week, silvery threads twisted around small twigs.

9. The first aid kit. I used up all the bandages on my hand.

10. A dog. For protection. Maybe one of the mutts that stole eggs out of our old chicken coop. The ugliest one I can find, with an under bite and a bad temper. I will feed it Milk Bones and leftover pizza crusts until it’s tame and I am its favorite, the only one it answers to.

11. The dull blade on my shaving razor. My legs are uneven and prickly.

12. My will. Deed the farmhouse to my sister and her daughter.

13. Two goats, to help mow the grass.

14. Resolve. Never share the house again.

15. A good mechanic.

Flash fiction at it’s finest by Carrboro, North Carolina’s Linnie Green. Photo provided by the author, whose work will be back again in the future. 


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