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Mini Sledgehammer January 2020

January’s Mini Sledge is another fabulous piece from Jeremy Da Rosa. Congrats, Jeremy!

Prompts:

Character: a secret friend
Action: going into labor
Setting: a coal mine
Phrase: “It’s just a word.”

Jeremy Da Rose_thumbnail_IMG_2824Untitled

by Jeremy Da Rosa

I checked my watch. My haircut was already an hour in. The electric clippers kept popping the fuse and she’d grab a pair of black handled scissors, open them, and stab at the red tab in the middle of the socket the way my mother used to poke at possums playing dead in our yard. Everyone once and a while I’d realize I was holding my breath, and I’d exhale. After three of these, she shook the clippers at me in the mirror.

 “Why are you sighing? I’m the one doing all the work!”

 I felt my skin turning hot, and before I could answer she sneezed. It sounded like someone threw a bucket of water balloons into a coal mine.

 I sighed again. “Bless you.”

 “Thanks sweetheart. I swear, I’m going to grab a box of those nurse masks the next time my younger sister goes into labor.”

 We made eye contact through the mirror. She raised her eyebrows. “Every two years her and her husband have another baby. No protection, those two,” she winked at me. “Or TV I guess. I’m getting to know the delivery room folks pretty well. They’ve got those masks just lying around.”

 “They don’t provide you with any here?”

 This time, it was her turn to sigh. She placed her hands on my shoulders, and the index finger of each hand brushed gently against my neck. I felt a tingle in my groin. If her grip had been a little bit tighter it would have been full on arousal. My cheeks grew hot again. “Baby, this is Supercuts, not Air Emirates.”

 “Anyway, you know who’s expecting? The president.”

 I jerked a bit in the chair, and her hand pressed me into the seat. “The president?”

 “Yep. Can you believe it? We’ve been waiting all these years for a female president and what happens when we get one? She gets pregnant a year into her term.” She grabbed a small black brush and cleaned the clippers.

 “I guess that’s to be expected though. I’d want to christen the place if I made it in too!”

 She frowned at me. “Honey, you sound like my sister. I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to: can you imagine what a female president will do for maternity leave? Rumor has it it’s going to be three months paid, mandatory. Don’t matter what job, as long as it’s full time. Paid for by the government.”

 I blinked at the mirror. “Paid?”

 “It’s just a word I heard on the street. But I’ll tell you. It’s been a long time coming!”

 She’d switched to the black-handled scissors, and was vigorously clipping around my head. I wasn’t even sure if she was cutting any hair, but she looked to be in deep concentration.

 “So what about you? You married?”

 I started to shake my head, then caught myself. “Nope. Not yet.”

 “I see. A secret friend, maybe?” She winked at me again, then shivered slightly and let out another colossal sneeze before I could answer.

 “Bless you!”

 “God, I’ve got another year or so before she’s due for another visit. Guess I’ll have to buy some of my own.”

© 2019 Jeremy Da Rosa


Jeremy Da Rosa is a writer and teacher in Portland, Oregon. Like everyone else, he’s writing a novel

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