Flash fiction by Catherine Zickgraf

When the Truth Is in Poor Taste

I did it today, though I promised myself I wouldn’t.  I googled abortion pics.  What I saw didn’t surprise me—I’d seen those images growing up—but they did leave me breathlessly ill.  Stored in the basement of my childhood home, were packs of pamphlets in rubber bands.  We played down there on the olive green carpet that covered half the teal-tiled floor.  And sometimes we’d peek at those basement photos while driving our baby carriages or washing dishes in our plastic sink.

Those pamphlets showed photographs: ripped legs with blistered skin, brick red torsos, and cords like worms all swirling around in trash bags. My sisters and our dolls coexisted with those glossies.  They didn’t bother us: we had the absolute confidence that none of us would ever, ever, ever kill a cute little baby.

Little booklets laid perfectly in our pink hands as our family picketed the Women’s Center Saturday mornings.  My Mom pocketed my other hand to protect me from the dead of Winter.  So we walked down the sidewalk beside the rusted graveyard fence, crossed the street, and walked back beside our Catholic friends.  Their prayers were like songs, those monotone songs—Sister Joan spent six weeks in jail singing songs for her cause.

The promise itself of never, ever, ever is a dangerous, useless safety net: today, as I perused the pics from those garbaged child parts, I remembered why in college I made the choice I did.  Because my life is blessed—some call it cursed—with a weedy bouquet of options to weigh

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6 responses to “Flash fiction by Catherine Zickgraf

  1. I think this is the first time I have seen abortion discussed in a literary magazine. And for that alone I am thankful.

  2. You’re amazing, Catherine. This is a stellar piece.

  3. Why, thank you, Donal. Glad I entertained you!

  4. Catherine:

    Perhaps my earlier comment gave the wrong impression. I say this based on your later comment on my comment. I would not say that your piece “entertained” me. I would say it made me think. And that, of course, is good. My original comment was meant to say that I was thankful Literary Tonic ran your piece. Like the existence of God or its opposites–atheism and agnosticism–I find abortion seldom cropping up in fiction or poems in little magazines. All three are important subjects but maybe they don’t lend themselves too easily to poetry and fiction. Take care, and please keep writing the thoughtful stuff and let’s hope there is a market for it.

  5. Donal, I am honored by your analysis. I could compile an entire chapbook on the issue, but that would make a lot of people nervous. That said, I am continually impressed by my blog subscribers who read loyally despite whether they agree. Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate the editors of Literary Tonic for accepting such a piece which some would consider “in bad taste.”

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