She was so tall, all she could see of the townspeople moving toward the forest for a picnic were open black umbrellas like a carpet of mushrooms. A yellow canary, feathers puffed with rain, looked down from a high branch. In her previous hometown, canaries came in pairs. The female was grayer, smaller. Equally eager for grains. Quick to fly at the slightest change in the air.
Her man told her she was the tallest woman in the world. “Have you reached this conclusion by calculated stats?” she asked. “No, you were the hardest to pick up.” “You picked me? I kidnapped you!” “No you didn’t. You looked right over my head.” He faked a sigh. They cherished banter, but bickered too. Even over pickles. Easy to anger. “Everybody fights,” he’d say in bed.
She opened her own umbrella and thought of Mary Poppins. The elusive woman she dreamt of as her own nanny, if her parents ever got one (which was a ridiculous idea, her mother said), turned out to care more about the winds than broken hearts. It must have been boredom. She left out of the blue, seeking other men, other heights, flying with different canaries.
As she lifted her umbrella higher, her man lifted his and joined her in the heights. Their umbrellas were similar, and came in pairs.
Hear Avital Gad-Cykman read her piece
Avital Gad-Cykman is the author of Light Reflection Over Blues (Ravenna Press, 2022) and Life In, Life Out (Matter Press, 2014). She is the winner of Margaret Atwood Studies Magazine Prize and The Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest. Her stories appear in Spectrum, The Dr. Eckleburg Review, Iron Horse, Prairie Schooner, Ambit, McSweeney’s Quarterly, and Michigan Quarterly, twice in Best Short Fictions, W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International anthology, and elsewhere. She lives in Brazil.