Short, Short Fiction Contest Winner: Quasi una fantasia


Christina Murphy • winter/spring 2016


Fiona had a baby she did not want, and when it cried, she placed it in its stroller and wheeled it outside onto the balcony of her apartment and closed the French doors. This worked well until her husband came home unexpectedly one day and found the baby with pigeons on the hood of the stroller and dribbles of pigeon shit soiling the baby’s white nightgown. He brought the baby inside, put his wife on the balcony, and locked the French doors.

Fiona pounded on the French doors as her husband cradled the baby and drank Madeira. The red of the wine was maddening to Fiona. Her husband paid her no mind and put on Don Giovanni, an especial slight as he knew she hated Mozart and considered his music childish. Childish, eh? he had said to her one evening shortly after they married and had conceived the baby he now held. I’ll show you childish. And he did, and she laughed when he had expected her to be appalled, and that was the last time they spoke of anything in any detail.

The baby was now crying, and the gold of the sunset burnished Fiona’s blond hair. The husband watched Fiona, the fury in her eyes at the thought that she would not be let in and would spend the night on the balcony. The husband didn’t really care what she thought or felt. He had what he wanted, the baby and the upper hand. He smiled at Fiona, turned the volume higher on Don Giovanni, and toasted her with a second glass of Madeira. He had finished the bottle—the baby was screaming as Don Giovanni refused to repent, and Fiona’s pounding finally broke through the glass of the French doors, slicing a crescent-shaped chunk of flesh from her wrist that bled in rivulets, just as the sun set and the darkness was as silver as the city lights coming on, one by one, in a faint imitation of moonlight.