has been empty of psychologists for years now, but still their sound-proofed siding squirrels through the
walls added to our home long before we arrived with our children, our dog, our noise. As if what is said in this room, stays in this room. They arrange their chairs around my scratched wooden desk, shuffle toward soft areas, saying just relax, get comfortable, yes, put your feet up, and then begin with small talk that quickly tumbles into large talk. Daily I interrupt them, the soft weeping, their handed-over Kleenex reaches, the tell-me-more of their stares; I spin my chair away from them, put down my book, and walk to the kitchen. But mere minutes pass before I return, hesitating as I push open the door, momentarily sure that they are the no-longer, echoes of what’s left behind. They know better. And so I stride in, settle at my desk, and there, with head bent, fingers in motion, I submit myself to their queries and cross-examinations, letting them analyze my absent voice, all I never did, all I did too well, pulling sorry from my lungs where always it sits, always it burns, and this room is not just a room but you and me and the gods of everything taking notes, and these words are so damned quiet that I can’t even hear the dog outside the door barking to come in, barking.
Winner of Fiction International's 2015 Short Short Fiction Contest, ANDREA WITZKE SLOT writes poetry, fiction, essays, and academic work, and is particularly fascinated by the spaces in which these genres intersect. She is author of the poetry collection To find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press), and her work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in such places as Bellevue Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry East, Mid-American Review, Southeast Review, Nimrod, Fiction Southeast, Litro NY, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, while her academic work on poetry and social change has been included in books published by SUNY Press (2013) and Palgrave Macmillan (2014). She lives between London and Chicago.