Kevin Kissane

Flash Fiction: ‘What She Carried’ by Kevin Kissane

3rd Place in the TSS Flash 400 international Flash Fiction Competition

The bridge is up at border patrol. Blank Girl sifts through the rubble knoll of her belongings. Blank Girl can only make the crossing once. Blank Girl can only carry so much.

Her luggage is jammed with necessities, but on her back, she lumbers finer things: Saturn’s rings, all thick with dust, trailing a spattering of icy crust, the brambled robin’s nest from home, her wire hair tangled up in the twigs and brush. The ladder of her spine carries nursery rhymes on each hobbled rung.

The curly cord of grandmother’s old dial phone dangles like braids upon her shoulders, and the chrome of father’s clarinet is balanced high upon her nose. The silver slip of a corn snake’s flaked and forgotten skin coils delicately around her wrist, a reminder that one life can outgrow another.

Blank Girl shrugs under the weight she carries, slouched like a tree branch heavy with snow.

Blank Girl has a name, but she no longer goes by it. It is the one thing she cannot fit in the suitcase, and better to start fresh where she is going.

Instead, she piles memories, picking a mix of which to take and which to leave behind. Mother’s bloodied bandage is wrapped like a necktie on her breast. The thin frill of sister’s tutu clings, child-size, like a garter on her quivering thigh.

The pile of belongings shrinks to the size of a stepping stone, a hurdle to be jumped. Blank Girl fingers the remnants once more while the patrolman shouts the final call, but her back is burdened to the point of breaking. Blank Girl pulls back her shaking hands, she fumbles forward with tree trunk legs, ripping loose of her wooden roots.

Blank Girl shuffles the long walk to the border, but Blank Boy’s golden tooth sits plastered in the mud, knocked out along with his name, best left on this side of the crossing.


Kevin Kissane is an American writer, journalist, and queer activist. His work has been featured on platforms such as Paperfox Lit Mag, of which he is the editor, Gay Times, Jetenous Magazine, the Ginger Collect, and forthcoming in Eyeflash Poetry. As a recent graduate of creative writing from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, England he is eager to spread his words far and wide.

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