“Bully” by Deborah L. Staunton

She holds the deck of cards between the swollen knuckles of her knobby, arthritic hands, running her fingers across the smooth sheen of their surface.

“Debalah,” she beckons, “come play Bully with me.” The Hungarian form of Gin Rummy is her favorite, a game she rarely loses.

Young adulthood has stolen the enthusiasm from my child-self and replaced it with the boredom of obligatory compliance tinged with guilt. I glance at the hands on the glassy surface of the clock and then at the rivers of wrinkles running over the hills of her cheeks that sit just under the cloudy orbs studying the cards in her hand. Cataracts have dulled the deep brown of her youth but their impish spark persists.

“Bully!” she shouts, followed by the throaty laughter of yet another win.

At dusk, I gently lower her spindly frame onto the bed in the room next to the kitchen. The hulking dialysis machine squats in the corner, commode perched by the bed.

Night has come.



Deborah L. Staunton has appeared in Pretty Owl Poetry, Six Hens, The Remembered Arts Journal, Literary Mama, Sheepshead Review, The MacGuffin, and was featured in HBO’s Inspiration Room exhibit in New York City. Her collection of poetry and prose, Untethered, is currently under consideration for publication.

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