That night

  1. $100 cash tip

  2. “I’d prefer it if you were served to me”

  3. Catering hall uniform: black flats and prim skirt, white button-down shirt

  4. So little exposed skin—neck, wrists, calves, mouth, ears—hair tied back to show mother’s antique butterfly earrings

  5. 2 hours setting tables before reception, 5 hours serving, 5 minutes assaulted, 2 hours clean-up

  6. No witness, told Sarah later

  7. So tired

Fox girl

She had drawn it on paper now delicate and forever creased along the folds. Her jagged preschool crayon lines went every which-way, yet never strayed from the shape of the animal. Four bulbous legs attached to the orange body, penciled wheels ready to zip away. Excellent ears, sharp triangles, with a smaller pink-shaded triangle inside each. The eyes off kilter, the mouth a circle, an O, an Oh, an Ohhhh.

Forbidden—stop buying

  1. Boston cream pie

  2. Chocolate covered pretzels

  3. Sweet rolls

  4. Pop Tarts 


The Nymphalidae butterflies were spread open on the white linen, organized by size and color. She had gone back to the entomology room of the museum to take a photo of this particular display case, just a few weeks after the wedding guest had stalked her down to give her a tip, push her against the wall, drive his hand between her legs. She pitied the smallest grey and yellow insects. So basic and obvious, so easily overlooked. Before the incident she loved the larger whites with their orange and black tipped upper wings, but afterwards she preferred the grey bodies etched with black. Their bottom wings ruffled out like petticoats to expose velvety points, like delicate fawn legs.


That afternoon her boyfriend pulled the white and orange bandana tight around his head, over his ears, to protect them from the sand whipped up by the approaching storm. She tied a shirt around her head to keep herself from the relentless noise and pain, from insanity. His tattoo tentacled out from the edge of his of his t-shirt—a tease of skull—and the pale print of his missing watch encircled his wrist. They lost time together. Over and over he said it was his favorite place. He wanted to hike further in, just one more dune, hour after hour. There was no shelter between the silver plate of sky and the sand and when the thunder drummed, he did not keep her safe.

Inner wrist

  1. Infinity symbol

  2. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

  3. Triangle outline

  4. Curled kit fox, asleep

Kate Gehan’s writing has appeared in McSweeny’s Internet Tendency, Literary Mama, The Stockholm Review, Sundog Lit, Split Lip Magazine, People Holding, WhiskeyPaper, After the Pause, Cheap Pop, and others. Her fiction collection, The Girl & The Fox Pirate, is available from Mojave River Press. She is nonfiction editor at Pithead Chapel. Say hello @StateofKate and find her work at  

© 2018 Kate Gehan. Published by LITTLE FICTION | BIG TRUTHS, November 2018.

Images from The Noun Project (credits: Yeong Rong Kim).


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by Kate Gehan
New Ink