P. Lawson

Kiley Reid

P. Lawson is the 2017 Flash Prose Contest Winner.

In 1994, three weeks before she was hit by a car in front of her home, I pretended to be Pia Lawson. We were waiting for the fourth grade music teacher who was six minutes late, and we were feeling very remarkable for being without an adult for such a long period of time. Two seats over from me, Pia gave a high five to the girl next to her. She used both of her hands.

Pia was always doing this, giving high fives over absolutely nothing. You got a B? High five. You’re sitting here, too? High five. I found the whole thing babyish and exhausting.

I stood up, smoothed my skirt, and said, “I’m Pia! High five! You’re cool! High five!” I held my hands out and sashayed across the front row, slapping hands with my classmates all the way down as they reached for me and giggled. In the back row, Pia crossed her arms in front of her chest. Her closed mouth smiled a bit – it’s hard not to laugh when everyone else is – but she never spoke to me again.

Pia’s parents registered her as an organ donor, but her body was so badly hit they could only take her eyes.

Yesterday, after work, I had an IUD inserted into my vaginal canal. The one that stays in there for five years. It hurt much worse than I expected it would, and I kept saying, “Ooof,” and the doctor kept saying, “You’re okay, you’re okay.”

At the end, after she unhooked the clamps and tools, my doctor said, “Scoot back honey, you did great.”

I sat up on my elbows. Between my legs, still looking at my crotch, my gynecologist held both her hands up to me, pulsing them gently, motioning for a double high five. This seemed like an absurd thing to do, but I’d never had an IUD inserted before. Regardless, as I tapped my hands to hers, I got those end-of-a-movie sensations, like I’d heard a stranger’s voice crack at the end of a story. I remembered that Pia’s little sister took a leap year before she went to college. I’d seen her once - getting coffee, she held the door for me - and saying into her phone, “Mom, please. It’s not about the money.”

“Oh,” my doctor said. Then she laughed. “No no no honey, scoot back.” On each word, she waved both of her hands. She had not been asking for a high five; she wanted me to scoot my butt farther up the table. On my left hand – in the space between my thumb and fingers – was my own marbled blood.

She closed the door, but I could her hear whispering in the hallway. A nurse – I could tell she was a mother from her voice - said, “Ohmygoodness,” and laughed into her palm. “That’s hysterical,” she said. “Remember when we used to do that in school? ‘Good game, good game.’ We’d spit in our hands whenever we lost. We were so bad.”


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Kiley Reid's fiction has been featured and is forthcoming in December, the Tishman Review, New South, and others. This fall she will be a Truman Capote Fellow and MFA Candidate at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.