Da saw dead babies in the soil, blood in the
"That's clay," I said.
"You see what you see," he said, and kept digging.
Irish Catholic, Da. Ten, twelve, fourteen, we lost count. Lots of
babies. Most of 'em alive. Mum probably knew the count, but she was
too tired to tell us. And Da dug graves for the wealthy.
Spit on him, once, one of 'em did. Da, built like a Checker cab —
about as tall, his shoulders a back seat. Da could've killed him,
but he stood and let it run down and off his nose, to fall in the
red clay baby blood.
"Lost his child," Da said, as if that explained it, and set back to
I nipped at Da's thermos, coffee and whisky, mostly whisky. "Pompous
ass," I said, all thirteen years of me. Da cuffed me, and said
again, "Lost his child."
Weepy, rich, and father of one lost child. Disheveled. What's he
know of grief, I thought. One lost child is nothing. One lost child
isn't enough to turn the clay red in a heavy rain.
But he sobbed and apologized and took a sip of the proffered thermos
and tried ineffectively to dab the spittle from Da's nose with a
rumpled cravat, and Da said, "Nothing, it's nothing," translated to
the grieving fop's ears as the ropey snot of saliva forgiven.
But one lost child is nothing.
Nothing - Flash Fiction by Dave
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