Contributor: Kristina England

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Diane leaned into the counter, stared at her reflection in the microwave. She rolled a plastic cap along her palm.

The cat pounced into the room. She was always a pouncer. So light of foot, so happy. Diane smiled half heartedly as the feline rubbed against her leg.

She walked over to the back door, opened it, peered out at the trees. A tumbler skirted the yard, then flew inward and landed on the porch about five feet from her.

The pigeon poked its head around.

Diane immediately felt the cat’s eyes narrow. She put her body in the door as a stopper. The cat stuffed her face in the back of Diane’s knee and began to nudge her repeatedly.

Domesticated. That was the tumbler. Her cat - not as domesticated as she would have liked. But the same could be said about Diane.

Of course, more unique was the tumbler’s ability to tumble backwards in flight.

Diane slid a piece of hair behind her ear. She hadn’t showered in days. She pushed the cat back with her leg and closed the door. The tumbler took off but did not perform for her in its departure.

She knew what it was like to tumble backwards. But for her, tumbling was not fancy, it was not desirable. Tumbling always meant a fall, a bruise. And every tumble took another person with her.

Diane wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve and walked upstairs.

She had tumbled backwards all her life. Every time someone tried to push her forward, she propelled herself in the opposite direction. She was resistant to anything that disrupted routine. So her boss had told her. So her mother had told her. So her therapist had told her. Years and years of people telling her what she felt, yet could not get under control.

Now, after years of tumbling, after years of rolling away, there was no one left to tumble towards. Friends, family, coworkers, had all stopped watching her flight, had all stopped waiting for her pattern to change.

Diane stripped off her clothes, sank into the bathtub. The water, cold from sitting, pickled her skin. She pushed her head underwater, opened her eyes, looking for signs of air.

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Kristina England resides in Worcester, MA. Her writing has been published in Haggard and Halloo, Haibun Today, OVS, Pound of Flash, Streetcake, and other magazines.
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