Birth Marks

By Michele Finn Johnson

The tiny, rust-red mitten was imbedded in a snow bank on the side of Harmon Street. Cecelia could tell from the stitch—a cabled brioche—that it was knitted by hand, not mass-manufactured in China. Newly fallen snow, in a backyard garden.Someone loved this mitten and the child who’d lost it. She peeled the mitten from the snow bank; it sounded like the rip of a Band-Aid®. A few red fibers stuck to the ice. The price you pay for being irresponsible, Cecelia thought, looking over her shoulder at Harmon Elementary’s playground. There were only a few kids outside, and they looked older than the mitten’s likely owner. Cecelia considered the mitten, its size. First grade, second maybe? She could never be sure—kids weren’t her thing. Eddie laughed whenever she tried to talk to his children.Get on the floor with them,’ he’d say. ‘Just get in there.’ Eddie was used to dating divorcées who had their own children. Cecelia knew the novelty of her inexperience would eventually give way to the questions—Do you like kids? Do you want kids? Do you want my kids?—and that would be her clue to move on. There’d been too many—the babies that didn’t stick, the babies that stuck and then unstuck, the blue baby, the babies of her twenties that she’d melted away by popping two little white pills. Cecelia held the mitten to her face; it smelled like road cinders. She pressed the crisscrossed stitches into her cheek, felt the mitten leave its impressions—dozens of tiny x marks that began to fade as soon as the mitten hit the sidewalk.

Michele Finn Johnson’s stories and essays have appeared in Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, DIAGRAM, The Adroit Journal, SmokeLong Quarterly, Split Lip Magazine, and elsewhere. Michele lives in Tucson and is working on a flash fiction and a creative nonfiction collection. More at; on Twitter @m_finn_johnson.

Digital Image by Lesley C. Weston

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