It Is a Pulsing Heart

And then she grasps with an unpleasant jolt of consciousness like licking the posts of a nine-volt battery, which she did once on a whim when she was ten, that she has never pushed herself to do anything, not a single solitary goddamn thing. She has never endured. She has never borne hardship like a heavy winter coat. The thought pains her in a limpid sort of way as she has no concept of suffering beyond the limit of endurance. It is pain devoid of resolve. It is existential pain. It is embarrassingly bourgeois pain. Pain that settles itself into the vast dark netherworld of what-might-have-been and proceeds to underscore every achievement and failure of her life henceforth with a kind of bitter dissatisfaction, a persimmon out of season, that is subsequently bred into her children and her children’s children, who can never do anything well enough and for whom the refrain of I-wanted-more-for-you belies her shunted aspirations for a life well lived and hard earned. No, she says, no, I reject this narrative. And she resolves herself, finally understanding what it means to be resolved, to be resolute, tonguing its metallic taste in her mouth. And she reaches out and takes it into her hand, she closes her hand around it with a strong fist, and it is a bird, it is a lighted cigarette, a gun, a wild sea, a pulsing heart.

Jess Glass has an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Her work has appeared in Surreal South, Knee-Jerk Magazine, The 6S Review, and PANK Magazine. She blogs at