The small piece of white cloth on the back seat was like a dark speck on my retina. A black hole, sucking all the air from my lungs. I looked at my wife, full of hope that she wouldn’t see it, but in a heartbeat she had it in her hand. For a moment, she looked at it as if she didn’t know what it was, but then she brought it to her nose and took a deep breath. The smell of old, coagulated milk must have been disgusting, but she smiled for the first time in weeks.

Did you know that a newborn’s heart rate is 100 to 205 beats per minute?

At home, she could pretend that she didn’t notice the clumsy way in which I had hidden the absences. The tiny bed had clawed itself into the lacquered parquet when I yanked it out, but she ignored the scratches. She didn’t see the empty shelves in the baby blue closet in the spare room. Nor the clotted dust, lingering after the diaper changing table had been removed. With so many things now gone, the house breathed again, but not in relief. It was more of a heavy panting.

A baby’s respiratory rate is 30-53 breaths per minute. 

But a burp cloth is harder to ignore than an absence. She pocketed it and smiled again, reassuringly.

Severe depression has to be treated in a specialised institution.

She helped me lift the crate with the books from the trunk and told me to go ahead, saying that she’d lock the car herself.

I stopped in front of the door, remembering that I didn’t have a key. It was the sounds that made me turn.

Tinnitus is a condition that causes you to hear ringing in the ear.

After testing me in all possible ways, the doctors say that there’s nothing physically wrong with me. That it’s tinnitus. But it’s not. It’s screeching tires and a blunt thud.




Sophie van Llewyn lives in Germany. Her prose has been published by Flash FrontierThe Molotov Cocktail, Spelk, Halo, and Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, among others and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently polishing her novella-in-flash.