December 2023


Belinda J. Kein

Play Audio
read by Rachel Wixom

art by Ryan Livingston

It was not her fault; that much she knew or hoped at any rate, the sound originating somewhere behind her, abrasive and metallic, more crunch than thud, but at the moment of impact she felt it, a jolt that threw her forward toward the wide swath of dash and, because she’d unfastened her seatbelt to wave goodbye with some measure of enthusiasm and blow a second kiss through the open window, thus freed from constraint, she plowed face-first into the windshield, her forehead slamming against the glass with a thunk and a crack, events that seemed to unfold slowly, yet sped by so quickly she was unable to register what had happened or just how they’d occurred, and no one else could say with certainty for, by then, the children were safely ensconced inside the school, as were the teachers who’d hurriedly ushered their charges through the heavy double doors, the other parents long since dispersed having arrived earlier than she, her tardiness neither her choice nor of her own making, the day difficult from the start, the children fussy, refusing to rise, to don the outfits she’d laid out or deign to taste the eggs she’d prepared, admittedly overcooked because she’d turned her attention to the tuna sandwiches, meticulously removing the objectionable crusts as her daughter had demanded emphatically stomping her feet in a preview of the tantrum, the inevitable crying and rolling about that would ensue if not done correctly, a prospect so distracting that the eggs had spat and sputtered for some time before she lifted the pan from the flame, the eggs as dark and dry as the accompanying toast, and set them before her children, both of whom volubly decried her failure to provide a satisfactory meal and scuttled off in a huff, a discernible whiff of disdain wafting behind them, and though she understood that, at some point, she should draw the line and assert her authority, she could not say where that point was exactly, so thus the day had continued, the drive to school no less trying having met with traffic jams and drizzle and numerous detours, the children whining all the while, her attempts to appease them accounting for their late arrival, the haste with which she released her squabbling passengers, and much as she wished it otherwise, likely the accident as well, her violent encounter with the windshield after which everything went black, unconsciousness doing her the kindness of rescinding the world, allowing her a reprieve at last.

About the Author

Belinda J. Kein is a poet at heart who brings her love of lyricism to short fiction, creative nonfiction and flash pieces that often straddle both genres. Her fiction has appeared in the 2022 DimeStories Anthology and in The Spirit of Pregnancy: An Interactive Anthology. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in MER (Mom Egg Review) and will be published in an upcoming issue of Brink and the Stanchion Home Away from Home Anthology. She holds an MA in English from San Diego State University and an MFA in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte.

About the Reader

Rachel Wixom is a voice actor based in New York City. When she’s not recording, she spends her time
practicing her samurai sword–gleefully imagining vanquishing greedy dragons and other ne’er-do-wells–stitching up holes in the multiverse with her knitting needles, finding herself challenged to staring
contests by the stray cats who’ve managed to wriggle up to her lofty window, and immersing herself in
all the stories that the internet has to offer.

About the Artist

Ryan Livingston is an illustrator, designer, and screen printer based in New York. He earned his BFA from Lesley Art & Design (LA+D). He is currently building out his body of self-published comics and zines, exploring silkscreen techniques and limited color. You can see more of his work at