Resident Angel of the Assisted Living Writers' Workshop
Ariel watches snow outside and vibrates. She’s one of six gathered around the breakfast tables I’ve pressed together.
Arriving late in royal blue, Flo apologizes: “I was in the tub.”
Helen: “Lucky you, clean on Friday.”
“I like your top,” says Harold. He’s been away awhile. Flo smiles. Harold whispers, “Is that her?”
Me: “No.” I have class soon. “Alright. Let’s start—”
“I don’t care if I make 101,” says Lorraine, passing around her hundredth birthday flier, “but this is a dream.” Besides a clip-art tulip, it’s mostly white space. Harold squints at it, writes Are you her at the top.
“I’ll be in the tub after this,” Lorraine says.
Harold: “Is that her?”
Violet raises a hand, which isn’t our rule. “I got clean yesterday.” Lipstick dyes her teeth rosy. “Or, maybe Wednesday...." Laughter. I read a poem about knowledge not stacking into towers.
“Think of questions,” I say. “Write ten.”
Helen rolls her eyes.
Flo: “What’d he say?”
Harold, pointing outside: “Is that—”
Everyone asks when the flowers will return. Interrogate the sun. Ariel shares, whisper-hoarse, “Is it okay I have no questions about flowers?” Helen claps. Harold reaches for my wrist to tell me something.
Tyler Barton is the author of the forthcoming flash fiction chapbook, GET EMPTY, which won the 2017 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest from Split Lip Press. His stories are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, and Yemassee. He is the co-founder of FEAR NO LIT. Find him at tsbarton.com and @goftyler.