Flash Fiction: It Wasn’t a Fit by Lauren Woods

Fit: Suitability

Emma is trying to piece the fragments of her life together and make sense of things. Since her divorce two years before, she has dated several different men. One went on about the quality of the local schools during long brunches that dragged into the afternoons. One cooked elaborate dinners with her on Friday nights and left early Saturdays before his run. She thinks most of all about another who stopped responding and wonders whether he was the one.

Fit: To make a place or room for

Emma’s apartment is on the top floor of what used to be a house, in a neighborhood of red brick homes, each like every other, that faces a grove of historic trees—historic means don’t touch—only one of which stretches up over the other trees like it’s trying to get the last fresh breath of air.

Fit: To be in harmony with

Emma’s parents, who have been together for more than three decades, are renovating their house. They ask which kind of tile she thinks might suit their kitchen. Emma says they’re the ones who ought to know.

Fit: Able to meet the required purpose

Some evenings after the kids go down, Emma pours red wine for herself into one of the kids’ sippy cups because she can’t find a proper glass.

Fit: To be seemly or proper

The other neighborhood women outside on their folding chairs with their husbands and kids and dogs have a look when Emma approaches.

Fit: The degree of closeness between surfaces in an assembly of parts

Emma gives her children a puzzle to put together, but they sob because the last piece is missing. They scream so loud Emma’s ears ring. Emma leaves the room, flops onto her bed, and stares up at the ceiling. She wants to know what to do now with all the leftover pieces.

Fit: To conform correctly

When Emma fought with her sisters as a child, her father sent each of them to their separate rooms to think it over, but when the doors closed, Emma never thought it over. Instead, she imagined she was dropped into the wrong family.

Fit: Athletic

Emma thinks that maybe the answer she’s looking for has something to do with the feeling in her chest when she goes on a long run by herself, feels the cool air cycling through her lungs, and imagines that with each run, her body will change ever so slightly.

Fit: A sudden burst of activity

Emma transfers her children out of one elementary school and into another.

Fit: An impulsive or irregular manner

Emma runs into a neighbor who is with the homeowner’s association, who tells Emma the trees in the courtyard are heritage trees, which means they’re large and irreplaceable. She says their roots are so connected that each tree can feel the loss of any other. She asks Emma whether that makes any sense to her. She says that’s why Emma’s kids shouldn’t be swinging on the branches. Emma pretends to contemplate the branches overhead.

Fit: An emotional reaction (as in anger or frustration) 

Emma asks a friend one day, “You know that feeling where you try and try and try to find the answer for how to live your life, but the definition is always shifting, and then you start to wonder if maybe you’re the one who isn’t right?”

Antonyms: Unsuitable, improper, inappropriate, unbecoming, unhappy, unseemly, wrong

Emma puzzles over the last words her husband said to her before they split, and in what ways they, or anything at all, is meant to fit. She puzzles so long that the words themselves lose meaning. The individual pieces of her life seem fine enough, but Emma can’t figure out how to assemble them anymore. Emma thought autumn was her favorite season, but with the darkening of the skies in the late afternoons, and the end of summer pressing upon her, she wonders if it wasn’t spring. It’s becoming more difficult to decide. She struggles with a snug running shoe and wants to find someone who can tell her whether there truly are different seasons of life and whether another season is coming.

Lauren Woods is a Washington, DC-based writer. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The Antioch Review, Fiction Southeast, The Normal School, Moon City Review, and other journals. In 2022, her work was shortlisted for The Forge Literary Magazine’s flash creative nonfiction prize and nominated for Best of the Net.

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