Beatrice wears pink slippers padded with a material that reminds me of flattened sorghum, and they feel like a well-brushed cat’s fur. I can’t hear her coming when she wears them. Her feet are like an Indian’s pawing through the woods or a ninja’s darting across a stone balcony, I say, and she laughs, asks me to tell her a story about a ninja or an Indian or maybe a ninja Indian or Indian ninja. I ask her what’s the difference between the two. She sits next to me and curls her arms around me, an awkward little hug, a bit of contact that reminds me of when we could roll around and our skin stuck together in the heat. I want to return the hug, let her feel the pressure of my hands, but I can’t, and I know she knows it. I sigh, and when she sits up I give a flea of a shrug. Dad never told ninja stories, I say. My mouth is dry when I think of his shivering, whispering lips. Just ghosts. All he could ever conjure was ghosts.
Joe Baumann has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he currently serves as the editor-in-chief of Rougarou: an Online Literary Journal. He is the author of Ivory Children: Flash Fictions, and his work has appeared in Tulane Review, Willow Review, Hawai’i Review, and many others, and is forthcoming in Lalitamba and Lindenwood Review. He will be joining the faculty at St. Charles Community College in St. Charles, Missouri, as an assistant professor this fall.