SLEIGHT - erin pringle


erin pringle

Everyone’s in a good mood beside the mermaid fountain. Lovers kiss, toddlers reach for pennies strewn across the fountain floor, a magician fans a deck of cards, saying, Pick a card—any card, and someone chooses a card without realizing the magician helped. Show the card to everyone but me, he says, winking.

Cradling the baby who slid dead out of her last night, a woman in a hospital gown flecked with blue stars climbs into the fountain. She lifts her baby so its feet don’t get wet from the water spilling from holes in the mermaid's hands. The pennies below throw sparkles up her thighs.

Everyone begins looking and looking away.

The magician shuffles the cards.

The woman’s eyes focus on everyone.

The magician climbs into the fountain because his card trick will not succeed if no one wants to be fooled. He gently reaches up her gown, pulling out the card. Which is a photograph of her kissing the blue baby, her husband’s hand on her shoulder, her fingernails red as love and hearts.

Is it the right card? she whispers.

As he weeps, her nipples spill milk, and the audience nods.