by Sarah Freligh

CINDY AND I are drinking wine that I filched from my mom and trashing the cool girls in school, saying stuff like Suzie Richards stuffs her bra with Kleenex and Ellie Armstrong is easy, stuff that may or may not be true but makes us feel better the way this cheap red wine does: how it’s sweet in a way that we’re not and honest for how it unlatches the hinge in our tongues and frees us up to tell some big truths. How my mother passes out after dinner every night or how Cindy’s mother is screwing the golf pro at the country club where she works as a waitress, the married golf pro who has a blonde wife and a pair of blonde daughters who play angels in the Christmas pageant while the ugly kids like Cindy’s little sister are stuffed into donkey suits and ordered to stand around the manger and bray. The golf pro keeps a black Bible next to the cash register in the pro shop and reads scripture whenever it isn’t busy, marks his place with a red ribbon when it is. Good book? Cindy’s mom asked him, which is how they got started. She’s gone to Bible study a time or two, less to get religion and more to check out the golf pro’s wife. Imagine me at Bible study, she’ll say to her friends at the Hi Ho Club, a place out on the highway where she and the other waitresses go after work, rich with tips from golfers. The cardboard coaster, the drink that sweats a wet circle, the fruit speared through a plastic sword—so nice to be waited on for a change. Cindy’s mom says the fruit’s best after it’s marinated awhile in the booze and swears that someday she’ll make a wall hanging out of all the swords she’s collected, something to cover the bare spot over the TV that’s been there since Cindy’s dad moved away. What Cindy’s mom calls it, away, like there’s a way he could find his way back to them someday. A small chance, but still a way.  


Sarah Freligh is the author of five books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis; We, published by Harbor Editions in early 2021, and A Brief Natural History of Women, forthcoming in April 2023. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, the Wigleaf50, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018), Best Microfiction (2019-22) and Best Small Fiction 2022. Among her awards are poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Saltonstall Foundation.