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Jell-O Road by Barbara Jacksha
copyright 2006 by BARBARA JACKSHA


I hold the future in my hands. It is like Jell-O.

I could plunge my face in it, slurp it through my lips, as if through a straw. It would smear my face in green translucence; blobs of it would giggle on my nose and chin.

I could give it to someone else, Brian for instance. He would stare at it with his steely eyes; harden it into a predetermined, premeditated, definitive decision.

I could just wait. Hold it, watch it wobble, shimmer and move like a dancer. Does Jell-O melt? I've never waited long enough to find out. I suppose it does. It would flow through my fingers like time running out.

"We're not having it," Brian had said. "We decided already."

"I know," I replied. "We decided already." Long ago.

"Just so long as you know." He picked up his briefcase. I swear he is becoming that briefcase. His arms fall square from his shoulders; his suit is unrumpled, smooth-stretched like leather. I look for the latches; speculate if they will be locked.

We had decided. I gave it no thought. No thought, that is, until the worm whispered to me. I saw it in the garden, wondered about its relentless direction in life. I scooped it up with a handful of dirt. It pushed from the light in panic. When I brushed the dirt off my hands, it had disappeared.

It happened to my grandfather too. His wily worm whispered horseracing tips to him. It was invariably correct. I think mine entered underneath my fingernail. Leastways, it did ache there for a few days.

The worm told me that this accident was not an accident. That all accidents are, in some way, premeditated. It is difficult to believe.

Really, it angers me. The worm could be more helpful. Give me Lotto numbers, for instance. Then I would have something to escape with. If that's what was decided.

Brian has a week of meetings to think about, a new plan for renovation, he has quite forgotten the renovation of my body that was decided. Was decided.

Jell-O lumps giggle on my nose. They feel like soft baby kisses.

Jell-O runs through my fingers. It is like a river of silk.

Brian eats the rest.

I buy another packet of gelatin and start again.

The worm says inaction is a decision in itself. So I clean the house, don't stop from wake till dream.

I toss in my dreams, a bed of Jell-O, cloudlike but gooey.

I wake, sticky with blood.

A decision made for me.


Twenty-eight pills, like teardrops cry, hormones bouncing down the drainpipe.

Next time, I decide.

Copyright 2006 by Kathryn Gossow


Kathryn GossowKathryn writes:
I am not sure where this story came from. I was driving to work and the first few lines came to me. I wasn't sure what they meant, but they got me thinking about what it takes for a person to take control of their lives. I had a lot of driving to do that day. I did a lot of thinking. By the end of the day, the story came out in one big sticky, sweet splurge.

Kathryn Gossow lives in the Australian bush with a large garden, her family, and one very strange and lonely chicken. She recently received a commendation for her flash fiction from the Australian Horror Writers Association. Her stories are slowly getting out there. She can be contacted at

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