The Listening Place

by Tina Barry

My mother tells her friend on the phone about my father’s latest misdeeds: he’s lost money at the tracks, meant for my brother’s tenth birthday party, a no-big-deal family thing at a diner, but still; her voice gets screechy as she talks of the boy he was caught fondling in the bathroom of a bowling alley. The worst part, she laughs: the dumb schmuck doesn’t even bowl. I don’t need to hear the flat ah-has and hhms of the listener to know she’s not interested. She sits at the dining room table, legs thrust underneath, a filmy nylon nightgown brushing her knees, her calves dry and scratched. I’m underneath the table watching her feet rub together like another pair of fussing hands. She reaches one out to touch me.


Tina Barry's articles and short fiction have appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine; 5 x 5; Short, Fast and Deadly; Thunderclap Press; and are forthcoming in Fractured West; The Linnet’s Wings; 50 to 1; and Exposure, an anthology of microfiction from Cinnamon Press. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.