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No Good Mother

She's on her way. No good mother would leave her small daughter waiting outside school on a day like this one. Rain falling in sheets. Lightning bleaches the sky. Water swirls at her ankles; maybe flip-flops weren't the best choice. She's almost at the gate to the school when she sees something - small, brown. A dog! The dog sees her and hightails it. She steps through the gate and sees the dog running across the empty field behind the school - the dog like the Wizard of Oz dog, only plumper.

"Come here," she calls. The dog doesn't look back. She thinks about running after the dog but keeps walking toward the school, along the chain-link fence, under the oaks, rain falling harder and lightning coming over and over. She isn't sure that she isn't going to die in this mess. Could have called the school and said she'd be late, but she's worried that they'll think she isn't doing her job. There were the lice - worst case the school nurse had ever seen. Not to mention the times her daughter has knocked down another child. The last time her daughter hit a girl with a book. So she has to be at the door when the bell rings, and everyone is dismissed. Flip-flops slip, squish. Then it happens. Lightning hits a tree, splits that tree right down the middle, like a knife slicing an apple, like a saw cutting open a chest. The dog runs under a clump of azaleas.

Story by:

Suzanne Carlton

submitted at 1:20am

7 December 2010

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