In the dark, everything looks like nothing


December 21, 2018 by The Citron Review

by Francine Witte


1. At some point, my parents were young and happy. I have the photo to prove it. Black and white. Color of bones and midnight.

2. First day of teaching, all I do is hand out bus passes. I wonder if this is what my mother did on her first day as a teacher. Where’s mine? a ninth grader wants to know. I can’t find it, I say. Tell me your name again. He walks out in a huff.

3. My grandfather sits at a desk and talks on a telephone. I never said more than hello to him. Back then, grandfathers didn’t speak to children. Whoever is on the phone isn’t a child. I wonder if he ever spoke to my father.

4. The day my mother leaves, she waits till my father’s at work. He works in the city and so she has time. My mother will not give me her new address. You are grown, she says. I’ll call you when I can.

5. My father plays his clarinet. He holds it and looks at it like it’s a baby. I must have looked like a clarinet, once.

6. My last day of teaching, a student I don’t know blows into my classroom. Tells me to watch myself after school. I mean it, bitch, he says and pushes me against the chalkboard. I have nothing to give him. Not even a scream.

7. My father is blowing out the candles. I have made him a party to soften the news that my mother is getting remarried. He is happy at this moment. Leaning forward, looking young again. Next week, my mother will also be young, dancing at her wedding like a bride.

8. We bury my father with his clarinet. He will play it in heaven, my cousin says. Everyone smiles and agrees. Except for my sister, who never liked my parents. She says as soon as we’re gone, the gravediggers will steal my father’s clarinet.

9. My father also played the guitar. Strummed out sound instead of music. For a short time, he and my mother would sing together.

10. I leave my mother for the last time, certain she doesn’t even know who I am. My mother, probably used up all her words. I leave her in the room at the nursing home. It is early evening. She sits there in what is left of the light.


Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two flash fiction chapbooks. Her full-length poetry collection, Café Crazy, was published by (Kelsay Books). Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC in December 2018. She is a former English teacher. She lives in NYC.


One thought on “In the dark, everything looks like nothing

  1. Paul Beckman says:

    Francine-A wonderful story of what I think of as a typical dysfunctional family.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

🍋10th Anniversary

Fall 2019 IssueSeptember 23rd, 2019
3 months to go.

🍋 Instagram

Pub Date: June 21st, 2019 #CitronSix #TheSummerIssue #SummerSolstice #TheCitronReview #amreading #summerreading #cheersto10years
"Immaculate" by Anne-Marie Hoeve takes us into the secret life of spoons in this carefully arranged micro fiction. #amreading #thecitronreview #spring2019
Christopher Rabley's "I Can See Her" is his second publication in The Citron Review and we join him in Taipei City for a most trying time. His first nonfiction story is from 2017, "Speak to Me". Please read them together, if you wish. #amreading #thecitronreview #spring2019
We are expanding our team of editors. This fall marks our 10 year anniversary as a volunteer operated journal, and we look forward to another ten. We love what we do and hope that you will consider joining us. Send your inquiries to citronreview at Open until filled #TheCitronReview #amreading #CreativeNonfiction
We're still reading! All 2019 picks are also eligible for consideration to be included in our 10th anniversary issue this September. 🍋 #callforsubmissions #CitronStories #briefliterature #cheerstotenyears #amreading #TheCitronReview #poetry #fiction #flashfiction #microfiction #creativenonfiction
Abigail Pettit's elegant flash "Moving On" hits a little too close to home. #amreading #flashfiction #thecitronreview #spring2019

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new issues by email.

%d bloggers like this: