As was his habit after excessive indulgence, he turned the tap to cold at the end of his hot shower. The jolt forced him to take deep breaths when his heart rate increased, releasing a rush of adrenaline—an instant recovery from his hangover.

Holding him under a cold shower until he apologized for a perceived disobedience had been his father’s favorite punishment. Over time, he’d learned to separate his self-esteem from the old man’s insults; to adjust his emotions like a faucet; and to see a cold shower as a quick dose of energy rather than some idiot’s disapproval.

Belinda Nicoll holds an MFA degree from Queens University of Charlotte. Excerpts from her self-published memoir—”Out of Sync”—have appeared in My Gutsy Story Anthology and Eclectic Flash (she was awarded a residency by Jentel Artist Residency Program to work on the book). Excerpts from her work-in-progress novel have appeared in IHRAF and Mystery Tribune. Her micro fiction has been published by Tupelo Press, Reader’s Digest, and Friday Flash Fiction; she has a short story slated for publication in Levitate in May 2020. Website: Facebook: Twitter: @BelindaNicoll. LinkedIn: