“When I’m Small” by Dan A. Cardoza


When you’re small, you forget most thatched conversations you have with adults. They tend to leave you restless and uninspired. Some bellow your emotional ambers so hot they glow when you’re lectured or you’ve taken insult.

Mother’s do’s and don’ts: Do your damned homework. Don’t piss the sheets again or I’ll sign you up for gross swimming lessons. You’re too sensitive, everything upset you.  

Timmy’s mother seemed calmer. He was my best friend. Even her name was as smooth as chiffon, Sharin. Her’s was an egregious name, even for the 90’s. Not sure how we ended up alone. How I got the courage?

“Ms. Beauchêne, can I ask…?”

“You just did.” She’d said with the wryest of smiles. I blushed.

I was caught off guard, dropped both of eyes on the travertine kitchen floor. Her floor was sticky, a little unkempt. It was hard to pick them up. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Questions at home were treated as dirty words.

“Why do you wear a platform shoe on your right foot?” It blurted out, not me.

Her head didn’t move to where I pointed.

“Hot-damned, you caught me off guard!” Somehow, her infectious grin lowered my shoulders.

“I’m sorry, I’m just…”

“Curious?” She quipped, forecasting my clumsy words “The short answer? When I’m squared away up here, and my shoulders don’t slope like a mouse. I can see almost anyting. Levi, I was born this way, one darned leg taller than the other.


“Ok, I can see you’re a very curious boy, a boy with a stallion’s heart, very sensitive. I like that you have the courage to ask steep questions worth climbing.”


“You’ll know exactly what I mean someday. It’s from high places that kindness and pathos come into focus, crystal clear at times.”

“I see where you’re going.  I hide things good, deep inside, down here, especially when I slump.”

“It’s a good thing Levi, mindfulness. One day, you’ll look back and be thankful you are strong and kind, sweet attributes that are delicious all gummed-up together.”

I left Bobby’s house that day, a little confused, wearing a smile you wouldn’t dare leave behind.


Enough time has passed. Looking back is something I do more often. Things are clearer up here, especially from an adult vantage point. As adults, we can see so much more, especially when we have things to overcome.

It’s been nearly five years now, since Massie and I buried Carysa, our stillborn. We named her Carysa just because she was beautiful. There’s something not right about placing a tiny something in such a deep hole.

It was eerie up here, at the unattended funeral, just the two of us, a shovel and a dozen red roses from Costco. I can still recall the playful breeze that day. We shared it with Carysa. It had bounded in from the west. It was a gift from our future.

The Cumuli’s bristles were as soft as a baby brush, not one ounce of rain in their pouches. We watched as the funny shaped clouds hopped through the valley all day before ditching town.

Come next July, I’m hoping the pain cuts as dull as a butter knife. If so, Massie and might return and look for Carysa, up on the henna hill, overlooking the Hollowsworth Cemetery. We’ll fox our eyes beyond all the headstones, toward the horizon, mindful of all the weather ahead.



Dan A. Cardoza’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been published in BlazeVOX, Bull, Cleaver, Coffin Bell, Entropy, Gravel, O:JA&L/Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, New Flash Fiction Review, Poetry Northwest, Spelk, and Your Impossible Voice. He has also been nominated for Best Micro Fiction, Tiny Molecules, 2020 and Best Poetry, Coffin Bell, 2020.

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