“On Anophthalmia in Cervids,” by Daniel Galef

Dec 20th, 2022 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

I had an Ideas problem. Not too few, but too many. I was plagued by them. More of an infestation, really. I needed to get them out of my hair. Literally.

I asked Kera over to help corral them. She dealt with a Style thing a few years ago that I thought might have been similar. Honestly, I don’t know. We’re not really close friends. But she was a creative type, and I hoped she might be able to do something with them.

As soon as she stepped in the front door, she saw it was serious. The Ideas were all over. Hiding behind my plants, running rings around the coffee table, in the decorative bowl of seashells half-buried in the spirals like a jacuzzi.

“Yeah, must be annoying.” Kera was an artist. Multi-media. Brilliant stuff in execution, but she didn’t have a lot of ideas of her own. Maybe it was insulting to call her over for this, something I should have thought of.

“This one isn’t even my field.” An unwritten paper on facial deformities in elk herds near industrial dump sites glowered from where it dangled by two tentacles from the chandelier. “I don’t know the first thing about wildlife ecology,” I protested, but it just blinked at me and climbed a little higher. Its bibliography alone was three columns long.

“What, so that means it’s completely useless? You could even just use the title.”

“Yeah. Right.” I hadn’t slept at all. “I just want to be rid of them.”

Kera was unsympathetic. “So call an exterminator.”

“That seems a bit inhumane, don’t you think? Heck, I’m sure somebody else out there might be able to do something with some of these ideas, I’m just not the guy. What do you think I should take out an ad in the penny-saver?”

“Won’t do you a breeze of good. People want their own ideas. They don’t want someone else’s.”

I showed her what happened. I had them under control, more or less, and then I went and dropped the box while spring cleaning. Now they’re everywhere. She tried the latch like the problem was with the box. It wasn’t.

“You know, some people would be grateful to have a lot of good ideas,” she said, eyeing a sonnet about a taco leering out at us from under the ottoman.

“Dammit, if they were good ideas I wouldn’t have this issue! Take a look for yourself!” I cornered an ugly little wrinkly feller that was perching on the banister and grabbed it with both hands. I pushed it on Kera like a poopy baby.

Romeo and Juliet…” it purred.

“This one seems to be all right,” Kera said. “It’s a pretty old idea, but it’s all right.”

“—in space! In space! In space!” The idea leapt out of Kera’s hands and shrieked around the living room twice, incensed at being heeded.

“Whoa. That one got away from me.”

“No, it’ll be back.” I sighed. “Whispering planet names and pentameters and suggesting rhymes for ‘nebula’ while I’m trying to sleep. It couldn’t care less how shitty it is.”

“Hey look,” Kera said. She was still on that box, like that was anything. “There’s still one in here.”

“There is?” I looked in the box. Shivering, in the corner, there was only one idea left, skinny and wretched and beholding me in wet dinnerplate eyes. I picked it up, and it felt light and stupid. “Write a flash fiction about me,” it whimpered, and I put it back in the box.


Daniel Galef’s writing has recently been featured in the New Yorker—in that, earlier this year, he placed second in the cartoon caption contest. His more substantial writing has been published or is forthcoming in the Indiana Review, the Atlanta Review, the American Bystander, Juked, the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and the 2020 Best Small Fictions anthology. His first book, Imaginary Sonnets, is coming next year from Word Galaxy/Able Muse Press.

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