pages Sprouting Something

by Liz Betz

Published in Issue No. 248 ~ January, 2018

Go and get the mail, I am reminded. It’s nothing more than what he tells me every day, his words are not meant to annoy, but they do. I bundle up to go outside, angry at this chore but outside I suddenly realize spring seems possible. I want to turn around and tell him to grab his three-point cane with ice pick ends and skitter down the sidewalk. Breathe this air, feel this day. No skitter left in either one of us, actually.

I start toward the mailboxes as I hash over what I would show him. See how the sky looks hopeful, there where the gray sky yields to light patches, it’s still overcast but somehow thinner. Spring, I want to convince him, is a sense that blows in on the wind. The internal calendar signals a change, can he feel it? Maybe there will be geese overhead, coming home this early. It happens.

It’s February’s old tease. Winter likely will wrap us up in the snowy cold again soon. But right now it feels like a homecoming. Or a new growth cycle. I bet it’s green next to the ground, blades of grass getting a jump on things. I’m ready to dig under the snow.

I see some ice has grown soft and fallen from the wheel well of the car. It lies there rotten. I give it a kick; it breaks apart sweetly. Like an iceberg calving into the ocean. I look for another piece of ice. It’s the most fun I’ve had for a long time. I can see now that winter has had me in a funk, and now I have been delivered. A breakthrough.

I like the breakthroughs, but I hate the shit that comes first. That’s when hope seems frail. I expect another gust of wind or put-down; definitely more of what put me in this reek to start with. But today I predict fresh starts. I embrace this subtle difference in the breath of the world.

The mail is under my arm as I come up to the car once more. There will be ice chunks on the street side. I stride into the street to play my game once more.

It is so sudden that I’m down before I knew I was going. A turning point– spun out on the ice. I tell myself to rest for a moment, wait for the jar to dull and the shock to ease away. Then whatever pain remains will the injury. Now inventory. Head okay? What about the hips? Did I twist anything? I anticipate the bruises, perhaps a cast. How long will I lie here, if when I go to rise, I cannot?

The fireworks explode. My neck, then.

I feel no longer as an animal. I’m suddenly vegetable. I’m sprouting something; a leaf perhaps. The long white stem that comes from the eye of a potato. From a dark corner, it breaks through, searching for the light.

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Liz Betz is enjoying her retirement pastime of writing short fiction which has been published in a variety of markets. She writes from rural Alberta. To contact Liz, use her email address: