This Is About a Gerbil and Nothing Else by Shane Kowalski

This Is About a Gerbil and Nothing Else

Sixty-three years later, the lost gerbil finds you again on the sidewalk. It has rheumatism and walks with a cane now.

You adjust your bifocals on your nose to see clearer this vision from your youth…

Herbert! My god, I’ve missed you, you say when you recognize him.

Yes, yes, Herbert says.

We all thought you died, you say. One day you were just gone and we thought you died…

Yes, yes, Herbert says. I did not.

What happened to you?

Herbert leans on his little cane, bows his little gray head, and says: I just had to get out of that house…away from that life…I just had to leave…

You nod and say, Yes, I understand.

A moment of intense, quiet swelling happens between the two of you. Because of the two of you…

You hunch over, lean into it…

Herbert drops to his little knees and says, But oh how I miss those days in that house now…Oh how I miss them…!


This is about a gerbil and nothing else


Shane Kowalski lives outside of Philadelphia. He has an MFA in fiction from Cornell University. Work of his appears or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, Puerto del Sol, SLICE, Tammy, Wildness, Hobart, and other places. He works for the United States Postal Service.


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Art (cropped) Public Domain Pictures / 17912 foto Pixabay License