So Your Dad’s Having a Mid-Life Crisis (Jasmine Sawers)

I coughed up my voice on a Thursday morning. It looked like a toasted pine nut. I showed it to my dad, who gobbled it up and started speaking like me. My mother rattled his brains with a wooden spoon. 

“Quit being such a dick, dude,” he said. “It was an honest mistake.”

Dad lost his job and migrated to the basement. He stayed up late talking to new friends on Twitter and Snapchat. He shaved only the sides of his head. He pierced his ears with a sewing needle and the custom engraved Zippo he stole $40 from Mom’s wallet to buy. He hazed the house smoking cloves lifted from the gas station. He turns Led Zeppelin up so loud the bass startles dust from the the ceilings.

Mom pounds on his door.

“I’ll give you every inch of my foot to your balls, Peter!”

“Oh, are we suddenly pretending you know where my junk is now?”

It’s a balmy Sunday in June when, through Mom’s screaming and the clamor of the stereo, I hear the car flare awake and screech away.

Mom’s eyes flash when she finds me upstairs. She wraps her hands around my throat.


Jasmine Sawers is a Kundiman fellow and graduate of Indiana University’s MFA program whose work appears in such journals as Ploughshares, AAWW’s The Margins, SmokeLong Quarterly, and more. Sawers serves as Associate Fiction Editor for Fairy Tale Review and debuts a collection of flash through Rose Metal Press in 2022. Originally from Buffalo, Sawers now lives and pets dogs outside St. Louis.


image: Kevin Sampsell is the publisher of Future Tense Books in Portland, Oregon. He’s also the co-curator and founder of Sharp Hands Gallery, an online showcase for international collage art. His book of collages and poems, I Made an Accident, will be published by Clash Books in 2022.