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Human, Nature

Sometimes, when you’re sitting in a restaurant with a man, you look at the myriad men and women around you and feel sick. They’re all eating mass-processed gruel and it’s in front of you, too. Forget the entrées with foreign names; it’s all the same. For all the claims of helping the planet, you can’t help thinking where it goes after it’s disposed. You’d rather leave it on your plate than contribute to the cycle of preach-not-to-practise. Your date quietly mentions behavioural therapy, then doesn’t return your calls.

Occasionally, when you’re driving, you see all the other vehicles around you and find you are not breathing. You have to concentrate on the number plate of the car ahead and add up all the numbers: dividing, multiplying, and cancelling the zeroes until you’re left with a nice, polished one. “Go to the country,” they say, but that won’t stop the crush of metal in your mind. You’re not in the city, but its beat still reaches out. It repeats a cliché about stolen sleep. That’s what worries you.

And often, when you throw plastic into the trash, you feel overcome with shame. Some days you only buy loose vegetables from the store: “No bags, please.” You wash your hands three times after unwrapping the meat from its cling-wrap amniotic sac. (The bones are not so strange. It’s the flesh itself that renders you catatonic.)

Yet whenever you see a wasp inside the house, you can’t move. Revulsion tides ice up your spinal column. If the insect hovers close enough, you’ll run out the way—but usually your movement encourages it to follow, until you have to rush through three rooms just to slam a door between the both of you. You’ve stopped opening the windows, now.


Flash Fiction by Caitlin Stobie

Published in Spring 2017