two shorts

by Francine Witte

Thumbs Up

I’m texting with Harry and he gives me thumbs up which, I guess to him, means we’re done but it doesn’t to me, to me it’s more of a yes, you are a fine woman and I’m just letting you know in the form of a blue hand, but it could be a mink coat, just like my mother had tucked away in her 1950’s closet, only she never really put it on, except every so often to remind herself that my father loved her five thousand dollars’ worth, and so what if he was always leaning over the backyard fence to talk to Shirley, our next door neighbor with the tiny waist, my mother knew she could pull out that mink coat any old time, and that’s the kind of love I want with Harry even though I couldn’t swear that he’s texting me from Mike’s like he told me, or Ted’s but instead I just don’t think about it, instead I text him back and it’s something like yes, I’m happy, too, but rather than send me back the double hearts or a smiley face, my text just lies there unread, like it’s hanging in a closet, being all lovely and mink, but never worn by my mother for my father, who in truth, was already gone.


My Mother’s Ghost

sits in the chair in the hospital room. My mother on the bed.

My mother doesn’t know me anymore. Propped up with pillows. The TV on for company. My mother doesn’t know the TV either.

My mother’s ghost is looking straight at me. Where have you been, it wants to know. If you’d been here, maybe I wouldn’t be.

I didn’t think it was this bad, I tell my mother’s ghost. You didn’t ask, my mother’s ghost says, shaking its head. You never asked.

My mother’s ghost is right. Knows me better now than my mother. Go on, it says. I’ve got it all covered.  Funeral tomorrow, and then.

My mother’s ghost is quieter now. Thinning to gauze and almost gone.

And then? I ask my mother’s ghost.

And then? I ask again.

Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy and The Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton). Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction, and her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This was recently published by Blue Light Press. She lives in New York City.


Artwork by: John Reed