Belated, Half-Assed Apology

to my sister who shared a bed with me growing up, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, breathed heavily at night, and I’d slug her with my pillow and hiss, Quit breathing, and she’d wake and say, What do you want from me? If I don’t breathe, I’ll be dead. And to the lovers who snored and I’d shove my pillow over their heads, kick their bodies until they were just about to fall off the bed, and they’d wake, and say, What, what? Was I snoring? and I’d groan and ask them to go sleep on the couch because I needed my sleep. I have now discovered that I wasn’t just being a cruel asshole, but I have a bona fide medical condition: misophonia, which oddly enough sounds rather melodic for a word that apparently means hatred of sound because there are many sounds I rather enjoy, like rain, wind, and birds chirping when I’m awake, but your endless breathing, your nocturnal snoring, those are sounds that I am unable to tolerate because there’s something a little off in my head: so, now, years later, I apologize.

Over the Fence

I interrupt my neighbors gathering near their garage with their friends to say, “It sounds like you have chickens in your garage.”

They stop laughing and give me a dirty look.

I try to correct this neighborly misunderstanding and lean over the fence to say, “I have plenty of compost for your chickens.”

Once again, they ignore me and move away from the fence and I wonder why my neighborly overtures came across as offensive.

I take the dog for a walk to ponder this, and when we return, I no longer hear the chickens. The women are gathered in the garage. The neighbor man walks over and retrieves a freshly plucked chicken to throw on the grill. The dog barks, hoping they will invite her for their feast. When the offer doesn’t happen, she gives me the dirty eye, sensing my nosy neighbor encounter has ruined her chances for a decent meal. I leave the dog salivating by the fence and sulk inside the house, hoping my absence improves her chance of getting a piece of chicken tossed over the fence.

DIANE PAYNE’s most recent publications and forthcoming include: Best of Microfiction 2022, Quarterly West, Invisible City, Cutleaf, Miramachi Flash, Microlit Almanac, Spry Literary Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, Whale Road Review, Fourth River, Tiny Spoon, Bending Genres, Oyster Review, Book of Matches, Abandon, Notre Dame Review, Watershed Review, Superstition Review, Windmill Review, Lunch Ticket, Split Lip Review, The Offing, Elk, and McNeese Review. Find her online at dianepayne.wordpress.com.