While Kari was married to the god of pain she never once stubbed a toe.
No, it wasn’t quite that. It was that she could walk into walls and only know it from the fact that, well, she sure wasn’t moving any further forward — or from the bruises after.
See, her husband never took his work home with him. Didn’t believe in it.
But it was too much for her to bear that she could cut herself chopping celery or carrots and only later notice she was bleeding — usually after she bled on something crucial, like her daughter’s starched white band uniform. She admitted to being something of a worrywart, and try as she might she couldn’t help but worry that one day she’d get, she didn’t know, stomach cancer or something else internal — and just die.
On her first day in her own home Kari strained her shoulder carrying groceries. She was about to get herself a glass of water and sit down to relax, but a mosquito flew in through the open kitchen window and bit her on the ear. Small as the pain was, it surprised her so much she dropped the glass on the kitchen floor. It shattered.
Kari sighed. She told Lena to stay put while she painstakingly swept up all the tiny pieces, all glistening like bubbles among a cracked sea of smiling neon fishes. Lena swayed from side to side, impatient. Absently, she described the new computer game she’d bought and how she’d beat it for sure next time she was at her Dad’s.
Her mother mm-hmmed as she stared intently at the kitchen floor, scanning for flecks of light, for sharp edges. This time, she didn’t have to remind herself why she had to be careful not to touch them.
Beth Langford currently lives in British Columbia, where she works as an ecology field assistant. More of her flash fiction will soon appear in Kaleidotrope, Aoife’s Kiss and Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic. She is an editor of Ideomancer Speculative Fiction.