Nobody tells her how to remove her father’s blood, how to cleanse the pools and spatters of a life stolen.

The county sheriff doesn’t warn her about the stickiness, or how very much of it there is, puddled on the floor between the cash register and the chicken feed. He doesn’t tell her about the crust that will form if she puts off cleaning until the day after the funeral.

No one helps her call the professional crime scene cleaners in the city. Their phonebook advertisement mentions special equipment and emotional distance. They promise ‘restoration’ — but she is outside their service area.

Her friends can’t anticipate that the smell will be the thing that finally pushes her over. They don’t reassure her it’s okay to retch; her father surely understands, he never would have wanted this grisly, intimate task to fall to her.

She doesn’t yet realize that, for the rest of her life, she will choke at the drip of spilled coffee, or spasm breathless when she glimpses a puddle of rain.

Right now, she only wants someone to tell her how much bleach she will need.

Myna Chang writes flash and short stories. Recent work has been featured in Reflex Fiction, FlashFlood, Atlas & Alice, Writers Resist, and Daily Science Fiction. Anthologies featuring her stories include the Grace & Gravity collection Furious Gravity IX; and the forthcoming This is What America Looks Like anthology by Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Myna lives in Maryland with her husband and teenage son. Read more at or on Twitter at @MynaChang.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

Read Next: GOTTERDAMMERUNG by Howie Good