Five Fictions
Kim Chinquee

She Hadn't Called Anyone

She put on her bikini and wrote out thank-yous at the pool. She was whiter than a cream puff. She called her man at home.
What had she done to hurt her head, her elbow? She was good for the whole two days of business, but she didn't remember much after she went out. A man who was maybe in the navy. His breath and smell, a taxi. She'd checked her wallet upon waking, and her money was there. She checked her cell phone and she hadn't called anyone.
She spread oil on her body, sat on the lounger and read news about a man on meth who threw his toddler into traffic. She pressed her fingers to her bruises. Her hands shook. She tried to steady them, writing on the cards to tell the people she was grateful. Twenty cards and twenty people. She looked at the ring on her finger, and she heard splashes from the pool.
She lay back and put on her new glasses. She closed her eyes and waited to burn.


She read magazines from the rack, looking for the skinny ones and comparing herself. She'd been there ages already and the waiting room had gotten pretty empty. She thought about finding someone to ask, but didn't want to seem impatient. She read about a star who had cottages. One guy got a nose job, and there was a page just for bulges. "Some luck," she said. Finally the nurse called her, asking how she was now. Her weight was low and so was her temperature and pressure. She waited again, then read about an icon, a cheater. It was all over the place in big print. The doctor came finally and said hello in his straight concerned voice. Hi, she said. She asked him how his day was. She smiled. His face was smooth, his eyes were small, his lips were never angled.

In Her Head

They said for her to sit there and then they leaned her chair back. She looked up again, remembering the painting on the ceiling. Square and Van-Goghish, dark shades of green and black and purple. A bare spindly tree and little white flowers, white birds, and she told the doctor, "I really like your painting," and the doctor said a patient made it for them, and she figured it was a patient who'd spent a lot of time there. The doctor put her gloves on, got her goo and looked at the screen. The two nurses looked like twins, speaking in like volumes, wearing red scrubs. They leaned her back more and she was glad not to see what they were up to.
Now they wiped her skin, and then the doctor said, a pinch, and then she felt the needle, remembering someone who was just getting hair back. Days before, the doctor had said to come in ASAP. Now there was a trickle on her chest and down her middle. "It's getting messy," the doctor said.
She looked up at the birds in the picture. They were so white in the dark. She calculated bills in her head, the binders she'd collected earlier that day when cleaning out her office. Her children, their Transformers, their hands, all caked in glue.
No one said anything, and she looked at the screen again, seeing through, into herself. Solid, white, and she'd begun to know what it was supposed to look like. The team worked and told her to be patient. She closed her eyes and followed their directions, making herself numb until it was time to get up again.


She pressed her shoe to the pedal. It was a car much faster than either of them. They drove like that, evaporating.


The patrons watched the Sabres, drinking coffee and wiping mouths with paper, saying things like shoot when the opponents got the puck in. One man clapped and said he was happy. The game wasn't airing on cable. A girl brushed the curls of her Barbie and her father kissed while the players skated on the TV. One scored and patrons jumped. The girl, she stayed there, posed. Holding Barbie's belly until everyone sat up again.