Micros by Melissa Llanes Brownlee


in the dark


she hops from streetlight to streetlight, a game to keep her mind from the things in the dark, her mother’s voice in her head no take forever, or else, and she quickens her runjumps up the hill, trying not to imagine obake, or hatchet-wielding Jasons, or knifed-fingered Freddies, her mother’s voice demanding go get me one coke, nails gripping her shoulder, shaking her from a dream of breathing underwater, pulling her out of bed and into slippers for the walk to the only place in the neighborhood with a vending machine, and she makes it to the safety of the parking lot, the white apartments, white teeth, shining in the lights around them, the coke machine, halo bright, and she hears a whistle, slow and low, but she doesn’t look, she can hear the merry-go-round creaking in the playground she’s not allowed to use no make me shame, playing with dem kids, so she marches into the circle of light, her slippers slapping against concrete, puts the quarters her mother dropped in her sleepy palm into the slitted mouth, listening for the satisfying gulp and clang, but all she can hear is the whistle getting louder and longer, a sound she knows so well, the sound of men as she walks past walls, stores, cars parked along sidewalks and she pushes the red and white button hard, her heart thumping her ears open and closed, and she waits, knowing that running home without her mother’s coke would be worse than what’s waiting for her in the dark


The Devil You Don’t Know


The devil will enter your body if you sleep with your feet to the door. He likes to hop in bodies. He knows how easy it is, especially with girls like you, my mother warns as she pulls my ponytail tight, brush bristles scraping my scalp, revenge for all of the ukus she had to comb out and wash too many times with the uku shampoo.

The devil enters bodies. He likes children who don’t listen. Children who don’t cook the rice when they get home. Children who watch TV and don’t clean the bathroom or wash their laundry before their mothers get home, she yells, clutching the wooden spoon in her hand.

The devil likes bodies, especially bodies like yours that should be hidden, covered.

The devil wants to enter your body, she whispers as she moves your bed so your feet face the door, because he knows what kind of girl you are. You can’t move. She’s strapped you in tight, so the bed bugs don’t bite, the edges of the sheet holding you down.

The devil enters your body as she watches, the triumph ablaze in her eyes. He enters through your toes. You can feel a warmth spread upwards, a fiery hug of nerve endings and muscle fibers. He moves slow, in time to your heart, slowing your breath, calming you. You watch her triumph die as the devil smiles with your lips and you join him with your eyes.


Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer living in Japan, has work published and forthcoming in The RumpusFractured LitFlash FrogGigantic SequinsCream City ReviewCincinnati Review miCRo, Indiana Review, and Craft, and honored in Best Small FictionsBest Microfictions, and Wigleaf Top 50. Read Hard Skin from Juventud Press and Kahi and Lua from Alien Buddha. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story melissallanesbrownlee.com.



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