The Lady in Apartment 2B

Karen Schauber


The cowboy-red lipstick pops. She draws over it again leaving a thick impasto line. Repositions the venetian glass baubles dangling mid-chest and snatches a last glance in the hall mirror ‑—spray tan deep antelope-brown— as the doorbell rings. The delivery boy hands her the flat pizza box, piping hot he says. The lady motions for him to come in but he stands firm, toes gripping the transom.


Insistent, her fingers coil and uncoil as she smoothes the plunging neckline of her gold lamé silk robe. The ravelling and unravelling of thick epithelial tissue, hypnotic. Her dancing fingers gesture to the long sofa finely upholstered in chintz and rose-pink fringe, velvet pillows from the grand bazaar. She pats the cushions with a little more oomph than is reasonable, and the boy still does not budge. His hands ball up in his pockets, face slack-jawed and parboiled-white. He cringes but only slightly. An invitation? The lady’s index finger is pointy like the tentacle of a giant Humboldt squid, its powerful barbed suckers reach out to grab, grip, and tear apart her prey.


Behind the bolting door: a pile of crumpled softshell jackets with high visibility reflective band, pairs of slip-resistant shoes, and red baseball caps emblazoned with delivery company logo. The tall stack of pizza boxes: Neapolitan with extra cheese, untouched.




Karen Schauber’s flash fiction appears in 100 international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies, with a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, four Best Microfiction nominations, and a spot on the Wigleaf Top 50 Longlist. She is editor of the award-winning flash fiction anthology The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings (Heritage House, 2019). Schauber curates Vancouver Flash Fiction, an online resource hub, and Miramichi Flash, a monthly literary column. In her spare time she is a seasoned family therapist.