Mother’s Mating Call


Mother’s Mating CallThey found my mother. She’d been camping in the jungle with a crazy man. On the phone Mom described it this way: “My belly’s distended, and the whites of my eyes bulge. Honey, I look like shit, but I’m alive.” I imagined her jumping up and down with anxiety like her voice, hopping and faltering.

“You were acting like a teenager!” I shouted. “Don’t you know better than that, Mom? You hardly knew him!” Was it my fault she’d run off with a stranger? Because I was living in New York City, thousands of miles away?

I suppose I should have seen it coming. She’d adopted a new ringtone—a froggy-sounding mating chirp—soon after Dad died.

“You flew with some stranger to the jungles of Costa Rica? You didn’t tell anyone?”

“You don’t know what I felt like.”

Now she was sobbing. Her “date”—a psychiatrist who had lost his marbles, quit medicine to become a snake-whisperer. She thought maybe a viper killed him. She was alone in the jungle with only one shoe.

“I did my best, sweetie.” On their second date, he’d given her a jungle vacation package.

“I wanted to show him I had real courage.” Dad had called her timid and fearful. “He loves adventure. I don’t hold it against him. I just hope he’s still alive.”

Clearly my mother had a mating call, and men were answering it. Who knew what could happen next? No more leaving her unsupervised. She might swallow the next one whole.

Photo used under CC.

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About Author


Meg Pokrass's stories have appeared in over 320 literary journals including Electric Literature, Tin House, Jellyfish Review, Smokelong Quarterly and McSweeney's. Her flash fiction has recently been anthologized in Best Small Fictions, 2018 and two Norton Anthologies: New Micro (W.W. Norton & Co., 2018) and Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015). Her new collection of microfiction, The Sadness of Night Bugs, will be out this Fall from Pelekinesis Press. Meg’s fifth collection, Alligators At Night, was published by Ad Hoc Fiction (2018). She currently serves as Co-Editor of the Best Microfiction, 2019 anthology, Managing Editor of New Flash Fiction Review, Festival Curator for Flash Fiction Festival, UK and Flash Fiction Focus Editor for Mslexia Magazine. Meg teaches online flash fiction courses. You can find out about them here: Her author website is and on Twitter: @megpokrass

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