WE, THE WOMEN - michelle reale

We were six in that small place, and too many. Close enough together to smell derision. We were all tourists, though we pretended not to be.

The woman with the green butterfly clipped in her hair hung on to her German husband. He squeezed her small breast for show then raised small glass of dark beer our way. Winked. The men at our table laughed. Encouraged, he spoke: In Tunisia, a man offered four goats for my wife.

The artichokes came to the table. The men watched we, the women, take sections into our mouths. I tongued my lips, looked sideways at the German. Ah, she wants to play, he said, forgetting himself. More than power shifted.

The artichokes sat in their juices, glistening. My man placed a firm hand on my arm, and gripped. The blood rushed to my head. The German stood, lifted his small wife by her tiny arm. His embroidered serviette, pristine, fell to the sticky floor.

The woman patted the butterfly in her hair. I looked for the powder on her fingers. There was none. The butterfly wasn’t real, of course. But, God, I wanted it to be.

Michelle Reale


Suspended Heart

Heather Fowler