Mating by Meg Pokrass


“When a lion wants to mate, he can’t be stopped. Did you know that, hon?” he says.

“Nope,” I say, cleaning his table, wishing he would order dessert already.

“Well,” he says, showing off his meaty forearms by laying them out on the table top.

“Copulation happens every fifteen minutes honey, for one week straight.”

“Wonderful nature,” I say. My period starts right then, and I am wetting my pants.

“Hey, but lucky for lionesses! Lions only want to do this every two years!” he says.

As usual, I see that he is staring at my breasts— my only decent feature.

“And last time, remember when I told you about how all clams are born as males?”

“Nope,” I say. “I do not remember.”

I feel my stomach cramping up into a bubble.

“By the way, you sure look pretty tonight,” he says, and motions me to sit in the booth with him.

“There are no customers left in here, doll. You got no excuse not to banter with your feeble daddy.”

“Okay, so all clams are male and then, bingo, they become female,” he says.

“What do you mean ‘bingo’?”

I can feel his hand on my thigh. I want to bite it. It would serve him right.

“Bingo!” he barks. “That would be a cute nickname for you!”

I don’t have a menstrual pad on me, and am going to have to fold up paper towels and shove them inside my underwear.

“You seem edgy, hon. Do you feel that you can confide in me?” he says.

“Well,” I say. “I have nothing to say.”

The one that sticks the hardest is the one he told me last week. How the brain of a cockroach is located inside of its body. If a cockroach loses its head, it can live up to nine days anyway. A headless roach is no big deal, is still living.

“I’m dying,” I say.

He coughs. He blinks hard and coughs again. He looks at me and says, “What do you mean?” His face has changed color. It is now pinkish. He looks to me like the way a shrimp looks to another shrimp.

“Well,” I say, “I’m not going to talk about it here.”

He puts his fingers to his lips. “Shhh,” he says.

“Did I tell you this one? A blue whale’s heart is the size of a small car?”

“Nope, you didn’t tell me that.” He grabs my hand and holds it tight.

“God your little hand is cold,” he says.




Meg Pokrass is the author of four collections of flash fiction, and one award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas, which received the Bluelight Book Award in 2016. Her stories and poems have been widely published and anthologized in two Norton Anthologies: Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton, 2015) and the forthcoming New Microfiction (W.W. Norton, 2018). Meg is the founder of New Flash Fiction Review and co-founder of San Francisco’s Flash Fiction Collective reading series. Currently, she teaches online flash fiction workshops and serves as Festival Curator for the Bath Flash Fiction Festival.


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Image (derived from): Hustvedt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons