Brian’s mother likes to cut herself with sharpened slivers of coconut shell. I climb the fire escape and watch her through the dirty window most early afternoons. Sometimes she uses a thin paring knife and whittles her flesh with new, wonderful holes.

Lately, she’s been collecting insects in paper cups packed with wet soil. After she bleeds the wounds, she takes a pair of tweezers, removes an ant or beetle, and squeezes them inside her mutilations. Then carefully analyzing their movements, she transcribes observations in a black and white notebook entitled, Recipes.

By the time her two children disembark the school bus, she’s wearing clothes again and fresh-baked cookies are cooling on the rack.

Her youngest, Emily says the chocolate chips look like bugs.

I smile when she eats them.

Brian hugs his mother. He doesn’t notice what comes crawling out from beneath her sleeves.

Copyright: © 2009 Angel Zapata
Angel Zapata was born in NYC, but currently resides just outside of Augusta, Georgia. His flash fiction and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming on Powder Burn Flash, Every Day Poets, Flashes in the Dark, Thrillers, Killers & Chillers, The Absent Willow Review, House of Horror, and Flashshot. He is husband to his blond goddess and father of four boys obsessed with all things ninja. Visit his blog: http:///


  1. I'll never look at a chocolate cookie in quite the same way... Delightfully disturbing, Angel!

  2. Good lord, Angel. Were they dark chocolate ants and beetles?

    ~ Brian Barnett

  3. Nice! I love it...I do so many stories about bugs. Don't know why they fascinate me so. Great job Angel...short, sweet and "Brian’s mother likes to cut herself with sharpened slivers of coconut shell." Brilliant!

  4. Sharpened slivers of coconut shells? Your details makes me cringe. This story is uniquely Zapata. Awesome work, buddy.

  5. This is seriously disturbing - I'd hate to interpret your Rorschach inkblot test; yet still, I grubbed on every word like it was the last, uhm… cookie.

  6. Great piece of flash!

  7. angel.

    this made me dash to take a shower, to check for grubs that may have crawled into the 'skeeter bits i've scratched.

    totally creepy, beautifully imaged--i'd say more, but, my skin keeps itching.

  8. Wow, so gross but great lol