Flash Fiction: Two Stories
If You Were a Robot Mama
You would have warmed a nutritionally balanced formula designed to give my body what it needed to thrive. You would have placed the artificial nipple between my lips, held it at just the right angle, and detected from the subtle movements of my body when I was satisfied. You would have held me in your padded arms, swaddled tight, while you played songs and stories from your vast library and scanned my face for signs of pleasure. You would have had no agenda but my well-being. You would have needed nothing from me, my robot mama.
When Pigs Fly
We told her not to dance, here in the back of the truck, we said it was dangerous, but she said it was necessary.
She said, What am I if I don't dance? Just another pig on her way to slaughter. Meat. She pierced us with her sweet black pig eyes. Is that all you are? She blinked away the wind.
We did not know these words then: slaughter, meat.
She told us we were on our way to die. We snorted. She said we were going to smell our own insides, but we couldn't imagine what she meant, if she didn't mean babies, and she clearly did not. All our lives we'd eaten the best slop, mated at our leisure, basked or wallowed as we wished. Content.
We asked her why she had to dance now, with the steel truck bed jostling and squeaking beneath us, and she pressed back: If not now, when?
She said it was our last chance. She told us her dream of the slaughterhouse, of the escape routes she had surveyed from above. About the power of together. What becomes possible when you stand up tall.
She careened up onto her back legs to show us what she meant, just as a loud bang and violent lurch sent everyone reeling, even those of us on four legs. Dust billowed as the truck jerked to a stop and when it cleared, we saw that she had fallen on Charlie, two sharp hooves punched through the flesh of his neck.
Charlie shat as he died, and when we smelled his gushing blood, we shat too. We vomited, our muscles went weak, some of us collapsed into the muck. It was worse than she had described and we were paralyzed: we would have to be dragged off that truck, stiff and quivering, and some of us would not recover our wits.
But she saw that moment for what it was. She squealed RUN! --bounding over Charlie's body and crashing through the rails, clattering onto the hard-packed road and galloping into the shimmering prairie grass.
Only Beula had the sense to follow, sailing her tiny pink and black body over the edge of the truck in impossible flight: Beula the runt, Beula the abused, beautiful baby Beula, the only one of us who knew what it meant to fight for her life.
About the Author: Eleanor Gallagher writes in Tucson, Arizona. Her work has appeared in Jersey Devil Press, Jellyfish Review and Crack the Spine. Countless K-12 students have enjoyed her stories, nonfiction, and multiple-choice questions on their quarterly English tests over the last decade. She serves as Assistant Fiction Editor at Atticus Review.