“Split” by Francine Witte

The day is slowing to a shiver now, slowing and blacking into night and that’s when your father comes home, hole in his soul, and says things like supper and bitch, and your mother slams back you’re late, you’re late. And you, you are standing there, not knowing which way to turn, and the anger that was floating like daydust on the sunlight air springs up and gathers and plants itself in that hole in your father’s soul, just digs and digs and your father is bare now, little more than a pair of hands lunging towards your mother who is broken her own self and is saying things like I don’t love you anyway, and if you only knew, if you only knew. And you’re watching all this, being pulled and pulled like you’re taffy or a jump rope because you’re still a kid, and you want to go to your happy place, a beautiful beach, where at any time you can walk into the ocean, go back to your fish self, the swimming sperm that crossed your mother’s insides, that split second that you were about to become you. And the only trembling was coming from love and desire and if someone were to ask you at that moment, which one of your parents you needed more, you wouldn’t have to choose.


“Split” first appeared in Panoply – A Literary Zine, 2021.

IMAGE: Vivien Maier “Boy at Window”, 1954. Photograph, black and white. New York, NY.

Francine Witte

Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press,) The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction,) and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books) She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. She is an associate poetry editor for Pidgeonholes. Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) was published by ELJ Editions in September, 2021. She lives in NYC.


Photo Credit: Mark Strodl

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Love the mother’s line “…if you only knew.” Great ending.

paul beckman

The day is slowing to a shiver now . . .Great opening Frannie and of course the story!

Joan McDonough

The way you can make us feel the pain in just a short spurt of story! The photo goes well with it, too.

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