Shatter by Anna Martin
by Michele Finn Johnson
watching the crash in slow motion
My boyfriend is in a coma. The way Momma first explains it to me, it sounds like he’s taking a long nap and that any day now we’ll be riding our bicycles together again. But a whole week’s gone by and still no boyfriend. What’s he in again? C-O-M-A. She spells it for me so that I can get it right when I bring my boyfriend’s helmet in for show and tell. It’s a big deal, his helmet. I keep hearing my Momma on the phone with the other mommas--If only he’d worn a helmet; if only Mandy had been there, she would have made him wear his helmet; if only helmets were permanently attached to our kid’s heads. She’s wrong. My boyfriend hates his helmet, says wearing it is like having his head crammed inside the jaws of a snake. He stuck his helmet inside my Little Baker’s oven a while ago, asked me to make him some brownies in it. He’s funny, my boyfriend. He talks like a cartoon, which is why I let him be my boyfriend. Tommy Massimo used to be my boyfriend, but then he picked his nose and wiped it on me. Last show and tell, Tommy Massimo brought in his pet hamster. Tommy tapped and tapped on the side of the terrarium, but his stupid hamster didn’t move one bit. My boyfriend’s helmet will be way better than that dumb hamster. I’m going to wear my boyfriend’s helmet and tell my class that Tommy Massimo’s hamster is in a C-O-M-A. I wish my boyfriend could be there to see it. Maybe he’ll wake up in time.
Michele Finn Johnson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, The Adroit Journal, DIAGRAM, Barrelhouse, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions, and won an AWP Intro Journals Award in nonfiction. Michele lives in Tucson and serves as assistant fiction editor at Split Lip Magazine. Find her online at michelefinnjohnson.com and @m_finn_johnson.