Saturday 15 June 2019

'What Now?' by Tara Campbell

Well, there went my moment, I suppose, when I could have reconsidered the whole thing, before I went from just looking at the woman’s baby in the magazine aisle of the Eastside Safeway to leaning over and lifting him out of his stroller, which I almost couldn’t even get open because those clasps always seem to know when you’re in a hurry, not that I would know about that from a baby stroller perspective, but sometimes I helped get my brother’s kids out of their carseats when they were little, which was part of my reason for not ever wanting any of my own, actually, seeing all the Cheerios and raisins and other unidentifiable crud they leave behind, and not wanting any extra crud in my life; simply never felt like I needed any, never sensed that biological clock ticking, or maybe it was digital because I never heard it, but my coworker, god, she will NOT let up, always finding a way to tell me how I’d change my mind if I had them, how I’d make such a great mother, how it would have been her biggest regret not to have any (although she just has one, and I wonder if she’d be proselytizing this much if she had more to deal with), and I’ve wondered more than once if I should lie and tell her I can’t have them, maybe sniffle a little while I say it, just to see if that would make her think twice about telling other people how to live their lives; and I was thinking about her, actually, when I saw the baby in the stroller, wondering how she came to the conclusion that my life would be destroyed if I didn’t have one of my own, and thought maybe if I picked it up I might understand, given what they say about the scent of a baby, which I’ve smelled, and is nice and all, but far from the only scent they produce (I’ve gagged my way through a diaper change or two, for friends); but for the life of me, I have no idea what drove me to go from looking at the baby to leaning over and picking it up and scouting an exit, which I could easily reach before his mother finishes flipping through Redbook, and even though everyone would blame her if he disappeared, would it really be her fault, because who doesn’t need a moment to themselves now and then to tune out the clatter of shopping carts and the loudspeaker specials on toilet paper and get reacquainted with spring fashions or what have you—I mean, I don’t know if I’d be able to give that up either—but now that she’s about to reach the end of her magazine and turn around, and either throw it into the cart or slide it back into place on the shelf, I guess this is when I have to decide.


  1. Excellent breathless paragraph. Great last line.

  2. Love this, especially this line: "just to see if that would make her think twice about telling other people how to live their lives". You capture a lot of emotion in this piece. Nicely done!


Congratulations to our 2023 Best Small Fictions Nominees!

We are delighted to nominate the following 2023 FlashFlood stories to the Best Small Fictions Anthology: ' I Once Swallowed a Rollercoas...