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
6 months to go.

🍋 Instagram

The new Spring Issue 2019 has launched with fresh bundles of Creative Nonfiction, Flash, Micro and Poetry. Share with friends! Contributors: Alina Stefanescu, Robert Carr, James B. Nicola, Amye Archer - Author, Geoff Martin, Christopher Rabley, Maria Terrone, Zack Butovich, Kaely Horton, Abigail Pettit, Christine Baerbock, Anne-Marie Hoeve, Helen Chambers Photo credit: @nathan6218
always it’s Spring)and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves – e.e. cummings, “Who knows if the moon’s” #Spring2019 #springequinox #poetry #TheCitronReview #cheerstotenyears
One more day and the spring issue is here! We are still accepting work for 2019. All work published this year will also be considered for our 10th anniversary issue which comes out this fall. #Spring2019 #TheCitronReview #cheerstotenyears #amreading #10thanniversary #CitronStories #callforsubmissions
"Ashes" by Linda G White is a flash essay where the liminal is everything until it isn't. It's smoldering now in our Winter Issue. #amreading #flashcnf #thecitronreview
Andrea Marcusa's microfiction "Freedom" offers us the world that had been denied. Feel the chill in our Winter Issue. #amreading #microfiction #thecitronreview
Victoria Buitron's "The Translator" flash essay explores how language rearranges and connects us in our Winter Issue of The Citron Review. #amreading #flashcnf #thecitronreview #winterissue

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

%d bloggers like this: