“Mommy, are there cell phones in heaven?”
She does this often now—says things that suck the air out of my lungs. She’s been chattering to her dolls while I make supper, so I’m unprepared for the question.
“Why do you ask, Sweetheart?”
“’Cause that’s how you and Daddy talk. Will we be able to talk that way?”
One rogue cell is all it takes, the oncologist had said. After he told me the diagnosis, I looked up the odds: one in thirty-seven trillion. That’s 3-7 with twelve zeros. Change the last three to 9s and that’s how many cells are on the front line, patrolling for invaders. Unfortunately, it’s the sniper that gets you.
I keep my back to her and wait until I can breathe, tears slipping into the pot I’m stirring. I swipe at my eyes and turn to chirp brightly. “I’ll bet we can. In fact, I’m counting on it.”
Her brow furrows when she notices my wet cheeks.
“It’s okay, Sweetie, I just get sad when I think about being away from you, even for a minute.”
“Don’t be sad, Mommy. I’ll text you when I get there.”
Traci Mullins, a non-fiction book editor by day, discovered flash fiction in 2017, and it’s been a love affair ever since. Her stories have been published in three anthologies, Panoply, Spelk, Fictive Dream, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Boulevard, Blink-Ink, Dime Show Review, Ellipsis Zine, Cabinet of Heed, Fantasia Divinity, and many others. She was named a Highly Recommended Writer in the London Independent Story Prize competition.