an excerpt from RADIO WATER, a collection of flash fiction, by Francine Witte

Night is a Man

A man without hands, without feet. Night has nothing but eyes and ears and a scrap of heart.

You left ten weeks ago, and Night is what I sleep with.

Tonight, I wake Night up and take him to the grocery store. On the way there, Night looks at the moon, down to a sliver now, but still. If Night had a voice, he would tell me how the moon is his.

I walk up to the doors that whoosh open. Night doesn’t fit. He is sky, after all. He is dreams, after all.

I tell Night to wait, and thank God for his ears.

I walk inside, my slippers back home, and I pad my feet down the aisles towards the bags and bags of chips.

Since you left me, I look at food. It looks at me. I have put on the weight I was afraid to. If you still loved me, you wouldn’t now.

I pay for the chips and slip them into my jacket. They make a bump. They are the child we will never have.

I walk through the doors. The sun has shown up and pushed the darkness aside. I look everywhere, but Night has vanished. All eyes and ears of him. And like you, nothing but a scrap of his heart left behind.


RADIO WATER is Francine Witte’s latest collection of flash fiction stories. The title story was recently featured in the most recent WW Norton anthology, Flash Fiction America (2023.) This story, like many others in the collection deal with Witte’s recurring theme of family in the process of breakdown. Other themes are romance, growing up, and the environment. The stories are all under 1000 words, and are told with Witte’s signature mix of quirk and poetic style. These are short, short stories that have a novel’s worth of emotion.

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