to where chips are crisps and Elvis, here called Cliff, never died and it is consistently 59 degrees, pronounced fifteen. The robins are tiny like sparrows and people put their junk in an interesting drawer, tick things off a list, say he-stroke-she. A complicated way for a ping-pong ball to get from one end of a room to another is called a Heath Robinson machine. Ludicrous! Translation from English to English is hoping a person you might love understands what goes on in the mess of your head. Flat Stanley’s dictionary is useless, but his map gets him from place to place. He catches trains on time and feeds himself biscuits and sometimes drinks through a straw, whatever that is called in your just-off, perfectly sensible world.
the phone, gets hung up on the phrase hangs up, because he did not even push a button, depress an object until it clicked and released something below. He touched his paper finger to a screen and even that he did not need to do because you had already ended the call. Flat Stanley is mailed around the world. He poses for snapshots in front of monuments and storefronts, sends postcards home: Miss you, coming back soon! He packs his liquids in flight-safe bottles in a quart-sized Ziploc, slips off his shoes before being asked, his passport handy. He travels without Xanax, knows to ask for cream with his coffee before the air hostess asks how he takes it, books an airport shuttle for the return flight while he’s still home. Flat Stanley knows how to take off from most people. His 3D heart deflates when you disappear, but he would choose, every time, like this one, to be the one who is more in love, to be left instead of leaving.
Jennifer A. Howard edits Passages North and teaches creative writing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her collection of flash sci-fi, You on Mars: Failed Sci-Fi Stories, was published by The Cupboard Pamphlet in April 2017.