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Carrying a candle in one hand, a flask in the other, a woman enters the sphere of her son’s
bouncy house. She needs a two-hour sabbatical from her life and this is the only place where she can drink in peace. She sees her boy’s old stuffed penguin on the floor and picks it up, thinking of the time a cop found it on a park bench, cradling the child’s sleeping head. That was before she missed his fifth-grade play. When she missed his graduation from elementary school too, she explained it was always five o’clock somewhere. Wherever she was, there was the party. To distract herself from melancholy ─ she calls it the happy side of sad─ she sings her child’s favorite lullaby to the penguin. The penguin sings it back to her. Let's check on him, it honks after the last verse fades in the air. The boy needs to know we're both okay.
Cheryl Snell’s books include several poetry collections and the novels of her Bombay Trilogy.
Most recently her writing has appeared in Gone Lawn, Your Impossible Voice, Necessary
Fiction, Pure Slush, and other journals.
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