You reach into the crib to pick up your shrieking daughter, the telephone receiver still bobbing at the end of its black spiral cord. The principal’s tinny voice trickling out of the earpiece: … minivan… inexpressible shock… if we can help in any way…
On the muted television screen the afternoon movie: Zombies go Hawaiian.
You hold your daughter tight to your breast, covering her tiny ears against the frantic shouts of the crossing guard, the raving screech of the minivan’s brakes; shielding her eyes against the sight of the bloody shroud that is Cara’s dress, the Nancy Drew lunchbox leaning at a drunk angle against the curb.
… Mrs. Dutton?… are you there?
You place your baby, now calm, back in her crib. You walk to the telephone, bend down to pick up the receiver, and hang it on its cradle.
There is a tuna sandwich waiting on the kitchen table, chunks of pineapple in a little bowl. In the adjoining room, the walls are covered with Miley Cyrus posters, a collection of Barbies lined up on the bright yellow bureau. Sparkle-art pinned to the bulletin board.
You sit on the couch and turn up the sound on the TV. On the screen the living dead dance stiffly beside the ocean, their garish shirts patterned with starfish and seaweed.
There is a faint smell of tuna and pineapple. At the moment you have no appetite. But soon the aromas will draw you into the kitchen, and, mildly surprised, you will find a sandwich on the table and some pineapple chunks in a little bowl. You will eat the sandwich and the pineapple chunks, and you will think about the zombies in your living room. How hungry they’ll be, after all that dancing.
By Harry Posner from his flash fiction collection ‘AND MAYBE YOU FLOAT AWAY’