A guest post by my favorite flash fiction writer.


Mardith Louisell writes short stories with crazy neurotic narrators. Her fiction, essays, and memoirs can be found most recently in Hospital Drive, Solstice Literary Magazine (“Had They Learned about Jayne Mansfield?”), and Redwood Coast Review, and in the anthology Travelers’ Tales:  Best Travel Writing 2012.  Beside Myself, a book of flash fiction, is her current project. Follow her at

She had to make fudge for her mother’s birthday. It had to be done either that night or the next morning so it would arrive in time. She started the fudge making at 11:45 pm instead of the next morning because the fudge could boil while she took a bath. That way, she could get to bed in time to get up and buy the box to mail it in, come back home and pack it, return to the post office and still get some work done.

It should have been possible but it wasn’t because the fudge was a double recipe. It was double because her brothers, who were visiting her mother for her birthday, would eat one batch themselves and there needed to be some left for her mother after they left. The boiling fudge had reached the soft ball stage but a double recipe didn’t cool as quickly as a single batch. She had taken her bath, she had done the neck stretches she needed to do every night. She thought of brushing her teeth while she waited but she couldn’t because when she beat the fudge she would take a few tastes and probably lick the pan and then she would have to brush her teeth again. There wasn’t much else to do.

She turned off the computer, undressed, returned to the fudge in her nightshirt, picked up the pan and started to beat. The fudge was still too warm to beat so she filled a frying pan with cold water, put the fudge pan inside the frying pan and started beating again. She realized the faucet was hanging over the fudge pan and moved the faucet to the right so it wouldn’t be directly over the fudge. In the past, she had absentmindedly licked the fudge, then turned the water on to rinse her finger. This time, with the faucet moved, she wouldn’t inadvertently ruin two batches of her mother’s birthday fudge by filling the pan with water. This was progress and she was pleased with herself for thinking ahead.

As she was beating the fudge, her boyfriend entered the kitchen, filled a cup with the green food that he takes every night, and came to the sink, his hand stretched towards the faucet. Even though the faucet had been moved it was still only an inch from the pan. No, she said in a loud voice, but his hand was touching the faucet. “No!” she yelled, not having the time to consider how to say “no” in an affectionate manner with a smile in her voice. Her boyfriend took the cup of green food and went out of the room and into the bed. She beat until the fudge turned glossy as it was supposed to. The beating took less time because she had put it in the frying pan of cold water, but if she hadn’t put it in the cold water, she wouldn’t have yelled at her boyfriend. But then she would have gone to bed an hour later than she wanted to. This way she was in bed only half an hour later than she had hoped, after she flossed and brushed her teeth and turned out the lights.



Based in the Bay Area, Judith is an author and Professor Emerita at U.C. Davis

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