The Pain Has Gone

It’s late night, Wednesday, when mice skate on the slippery, icy floor.

Their white colors soothes my eyes. Have I mentioned it’s nighttime? Still, everybody’s here, sitting beside the hospital bed, stepping out to smoke or chat, then come back to me. My dogs lie down, under and beside me.

I said how everything should be: the tombstone, the wooden bird hanging over it, and you, my love. I am worried about you. He’ll have my rings and remember me by them. He’ll never forget me, will he? He and I share a nervous system, passing electrical signals between us. I’ve leave it gently, like slipping out of a dress.

I hear him smoking; smoking is louder than people imagine. He’s outside, as is my father. My mother is checking on my painkillers. I embrace the lulling sensation and the words that will pour tonight, tomorrow, as if the end has no end.

I speak, but mostly, I am a vessel for words. I listen for my dogs’ tapping paws, their breaths, mice and their pirouettes, Mother whispering love, Father waiting, the voices coming from the years.

I swim among words.

I wake from the sound of a tractor. On my cheek the back of his palm. I ask for the doctor who kills pain, and my breath wafts.



Avital Gad-Cykman is the author of the flash col­lec­tion Life In, Life Out, pub­lished by Matter Press ( Her sto­ries are upcoming or have been pub­lished in Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review, Ambit, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. They have also been fea­tured in antholo­gies such as W.W. Norton’s International Flash Fiction Anthology and The Best of Gigantic. Her work won the Margaret Atwood Society Magazine Prize, was placed first in The Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest, and was a finalist for Iowa Fiction Award for story collections twice. She lives in Brazil.