Al Kratz
October 2017 Commended

What If Nothing Hurts Us More Than Imagination?

by Al Kratz

I finally went to see the doctor because it was easier than telling My Girl that I hadn’t gone. It was easier than watching the disappointment grow. It was easier than admitting weakness. The ways she could move me were magical, but when the fire alarm sounded, I wished I had held my ground. I could just as easily die in a fire. These things happen all the time. I went to the doctor because My Girl had put her hands on me. She was magical that way too. But now on the ninth floor with a bunch of old people, stairs our only option, I thought, Oh great, are you happy now? You’ll never get to touch me again. And then I thought, Come on, man. This isn’t all about you. Look at these people. What a loss we would be. And as if a wall of smoke had already done its deed, I had trouble breathing from the fifth floor down. She had put her hands on me, and I had asked her to say, O Captain! My Captain! But she just said, Shut up! This is serious! I went to the doctor because My Girl had felt something wrong. Right there in her beautiful hand, she had held a lump, small enough for fingers—my little life and pointless death. Or was it my little death and pointless life? What if it was just her imagination? What if it was the truth? I don’t know. After I opened the fire exit, after I felt alone in the parking lot, I caught my breath. I saw that I wasn’t alone. I saw everything I needed to see. These things happen all the time. The fire might have been a false alarm. I don’t know. I didn’t stick around.

About the Author

Al Kratz lives in Indianola, Iowa with his fiancé, their three dogs, and any college kids that return to the nest. He is working on a short story collection and a novel. He writes fiction reviews for Alternating Current. He finished second in the February 2016 Bath Flash Fiction Award, and his story in Jellyfish Review was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2017. This year, he has had work in Ellipsis Zine, Train, (b)OINK, and forthcoming in Bull.

He blogs at and tweets @silverbackedG

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