MANLESSNESS by Meg Pokrass

The pizza delivery boy stumbles at the front door. He’s a bit shy. Me and Mom order pizza five nights a week. I serve her slices in bed, this is where she eats.

When I open the door to him, I’m like a puddle of a girl, not a woman yet, not full of issues. What I offer: freckles, smiles, a minor eye twitch.

“Blaze on, you two! You and your momma are PIZZA QUEENS!” he says.

This kind of thing makes me unnaturally happy about the trials of living with a family who has stopped cooking food.

The delivery people in town know we tip, and tip well, so the loop of service is consistent and decent and pleasurable. Some of the delivery boys think we’re fun, eating pizza on Mom’s bed, watching TV, all of this is part of what she liked to call MANLESSNESS. There are simply no fathers to pester us in this part of our world, to bother Mom and me here. Pizza nights prevail.

Our dog needs walking with his wobbly little tummy. He’s scratching because the fleas have walloped our apartment, left crimson marks on my belly. There are people who would judge us for not spraying flea-killing chemicals. Here in Biloxi there’s nobody coming over to make snap judgments about how we operate. 

Some bloated nights we call in a few extra pizza orders. Sometimes they never arrive, and we’re relieved. Nights are as warm as days. One night, Pizza Boy meets me at the beach: quiet, sweaty and eager to feed me. We take off what we have on us, the moon hanging above us like a pizza with everything scraped off.

Meg Pokrass is the author of 5 collections of tiny stories. Her work appears in Electric Lit, McSweeney’s, Smokelong, Wigleaf, and others. She is the Founding Editor of New Flash Fiction Review, and Series Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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