She lumbered down the hillside, clutching her enormous belly, then veered off the path and into the woods, stepping over tangled tree roots, half sliding in the mud as she descended to the river. Her water had broken. It was time. The river was swollen with spring rain, so loud she could barely hear the birds twittering in the trees, the raucous cries of a flock of crows that swooped through the sky. When she reached the riverbank, she tugged off her shoes and socks and sodden underwear. She was covered with goose bumps. Shivering from the cold, she lay on her back and spread her legs wide, feet planted in the soft silt of the riverbed. Two crows were fighting on the opposite bank. They pecked aggressively at something on the ground between them. The pain was unbearable. She imagined crows in her womb tearing at her, preparing to fill the skies, a dark cloud. The crows were an omen, she was sure of it. She was about to give birth to a lie.

Jacqueline Doyle's flash has appeared in Quarter After Eight, Sweet: A Literary Confection, [PANK], Monkeybicycle, Vestal Review, The Rumpus, Café Irreal, Literary Orphans, and Corium. She has a flash sequence in the anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine, 2016). Her work has earned two Pushcart nominations, a Best of the Net nomination, and Notable Essay citations in Best American Essays 2013 and Best American Essays 2015. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.