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Lilypad Puppy-girl
Meg Pokrass

 Photo by  John Matychuk  on  Unsplash

 Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

"On with the American machine, down with grass and trees!" Dad said. I laughed, because, for fuck's sake, why was it time to turn the vacant lot next door into a new parking lot? The town was nothing BUT parking lots. We had just found out about the city’s decision, which gave me a helpless feeling.

—Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight, Grandma sang, trying to remember the lyrics to the R.E.M. song. I remembered the song differently.

I had sandals on and Dad was sitting next to me on the sofa, scraping the base of my big toe with his own toenails. It wasn’t funny and I had no idea how I was supposed to react. He was doing this kind of thing often. Sometimes he rubbed my ankle as though it were sore and needed something. Sometimes, he’d slip his arm around my shoulders.

“Lilipad Puppy-girl… What are we going to do about this crazy-assed world?”

“Dad, please!” I said. I was moving on toward thirty.

“Dad, could you stop?”

These days I get enough of it at work, on the bus, in line at the grocery store. Men touching me in “friendly” ways or else staring, winking, thinking, stinking.

Recently I heard an old guy in line for coffee at Peets talking about his daughter.

-My daughter is doing well, she's got a fiancé,” he said. He sounded proud of it. I couldn’t imagine my own father saying such a thing. I didn’t know what it would be like to have a father who wanted his child to grow up.

Grandma was moving on to The Rolling Stones.

“I’ll never grieve your beast a burnin’” Mick Jagger sang, according to Grandma.

Mom was on the phone. One time I overheard her whispering I can't imagine she's happy here.

But Grandma? Grandma was singing as though she enjoyed getting all of the meanings wrong.

Meg Pokrass has published stories and poetry in McSweeney's, Gigantic, Five Points, Rattle Smokelong, and many other literary magazines online and in print. Her flash and microfiction have been included in 2 Norton anthologies:  Flash Fiction International (W. W. Norton & Co., 2015) and the forthcoming New Microfiction (W.W. Norton & Co.,  2018).