Erica Plouffe Lazure's fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #29, the Greensboro Review, Meridian, Eleven-Eleven, Inkwell, 4:33, Litro (UK), the North Carolina Literary Review, Microliterature, Monkeybicycle, Booth Literary Journal, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), Microfiction Mondays, American Short Fiction, The New Guard, Keyhole, and elsewhere. A short collection of her flash fiction is forthcoming in an anthology, Turn, Turn, Turn, by ELJ Publications. A chapbook, Dry Dock, is forthcoming by Red Bird Chapbooks. She lives and teaches in Exeter, NH.
Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Peas in pods! Living dolls!
The stork was early but we’re open late!
Don't pass the babies by!
The babies know nothing of their advertising, of course. All they know of life is heat. They’ve already forgotten their mothers' skin. They've never grabbed their fathers' thumbs, never suckled breast or bottle. The babies have no idea what they’re missing. How could they? They have neither wish nor reflex; they haven’t grown appetites. The babies sleep in the Bavarian farmhouse on the midway with its watchful plaster stork, lined up in gleaming incubators, defying all expectation. They are frail cherubs; they are mites of humanity. They are 10 cents a ticket.
Their births: a sudden soak of surprise. Their mothers’ ankles puddled with dread, boots washed in unspent weight. The mothers tried to keep them home. They fretted the failed fashioning of wombs: stove-side boxes, hot-water bottles, flannel, hay. They worried the babies' weary eyes and oddly wrinkled foreheads. They are less newborns than dying old men, thought one, a mother of triplets. Now, she kisses their raw, red skin and lets the babies go. Their father, like all the babies' fathers, marvels