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One and one becomes two and two four and four eight and eight sixteen and sixteen thirty-two and thirty-two sixty-four and sixty-four becomes unimportant because numbers don’t matter when it’s life or death and this is, life or death. My father’s mother’s sister told us numbers matter. Sixteen is too young for marriage, sixty-four isn’t enough in English, four is the perfect number of kids to have but don’t start till you’re thirty-two. My father’s mother’s sister was smart as she could be having been married at sixteen and having four kids before thirty-two without the opportunity to get any grade at all in English, sixty-four or more. A smart woman with much wisdom and little knowledge and a cross around her neck she wore religiously. But facts like that don’t matter when it’s life or death. And this was life or death.

Caitlin NíShochrú’s father’s sister’s husband was the one with the knowledge. Sixty-four is considered old to live and young to die and the perfect time to make friends with the man in the sky. Numbers can matter, when sixty-four becomes one hundred and twenty-eight these are cells unable to control the rate at which they mutate. Cells that due to this uncontrollable rate control the fate of the owner of the cells. One hundred and twenty-eight of my own cells and counting. That’s how my father’s mother’s sister broke the news. I’m sixty-four years learning, and I’m still none the more knowledgeable. Numbers matter but not when they’re that size. When the object being counted is but a mass of things you make and culture yourself working solely and ultimately towards your untimely demise.

Numbers matter. Six becomes twelve and twelve twenty-four and twenty-four becomes the date etched on granite in the rain to sit on the site of the beloved and disgraced and misplaced for days innumerable and nights intolerable of why this, why them, why now?

Flash Fiction by Sibéal Devilly
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Published in Spring 2017


  1. Douglas Douglas

    Neat sting in this. Liked this very much. Thanks.

  2. Oh, man — this one MOVES. Terrific voice and rhythm, like a freight train coming right at your head.

  3. I like the rhythm of each paragraph – you can tell it’s a sibling of the others but goes its own way.

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