I love your story, and I’m especially obsessed with the moment when the narrator is out dancing and their friend asks about their lipstick. It’s such a striking image—the husband’s ashes as the narrator’s lipstick shade. I think this demonstrates one of the things I most admire about the story—how it manages to be funny and strange and sad all at once. Do you frequently find yourself using humor and/or strangeness to address difficult topics?
Absolutely. I crave the relief humor and strangeness provide when reading something innately sad or disturbing and try to offer up the same in my writing. As a reader, that break allows me to keep going at times when I may put something down for a little while. I wanted to incorporate a bit of humor into this story because grief is such a heavy form of sadness. I liked the way the lipstick exchange turned out because it’s a little weird and a little funny and a little indicative of how grief can be so misunderstood.
The loss of a husband seems like it should be a very “adult” experience, and yet there are so many objects and sentiments of adolescence in this story. Do you see a connection between adolescence and grief? Is this something you worked consciously to develop in this story?
My dad died suddenly when I was nineteen, so my experience with death is rooted to my adolescence. Ever since, I’ve found myself a little obsessed with ways I’ll cope when someone else who’s that kind of close to me passes away, my husband in particular. I have stacks of books I’ll read, puzzles I’ll do, games I’ll play with the kids. Distractions, I guess. There’s something very adolescent about grief. It kind of debases adulthood. Makes you incapable of dealing with life for a while. That’s what I tried to illustrate with this story—the narrator’s inability to be adult in the face of her grief.
Why flash fiction?
I love the power of flash fiction. The snapshots into characters’ minds and lives. Flash can be such a gut punch, and I love trying to create something minimal that really shakes a reader and sticks with them.
Anything you’ve read recently that you’re excited about?
I am totally taken with Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories” and “Double Dutch” by Laura Trunkey. I am also re-reading Amelia Gray’s “AM/PM” for the gazillionth time.
Where have your little daily happinesses been coming from lately?
Fresh peaches, beekeeping, swimming in the ocean, and Halsey.