Small Wonders logo: a bronze keyhole with a moon and two stars partially visible through it. Next to it are the words "small wonders"

Science Fiction & Fantasy
Flash Fiction & Poetry

She Seeks a Home


what makes a house
a home is difficult
to define, as not just
any walls of plaster or stucco
or brick can hold
a soul as mighty as hers
thrumming power
a star sealed within flesh
with seams marked by stretch marks
and raised white scars
along forearms she keeps concealed
beneath long sleeves on even 
the hottest days

this home must be tough enough
to hold up against wolves that huff
and puff, and men who say what happened
last time is all water under the bridge
as if the past never happened 
at all
as if her wounds never fought to heal
as if yesterday she hadn't
bench-pressed one-fifteen
no, no, the past happened
and so will the future and that's why

this house must be a veritable bunker
to keep her and her cats safe
when she cries and screams, the windows
must quiver and not break
the nails sway but keep their place
walls upright and strong
like the fruitless maple she used
to hide behind in third grade
the one that lost leaves but
never branches even 
in the mightiest storms
its bark absorbed her dreams and secrets
along with vivid summer sunshine
her tears sustaining roots
during long, terrible droughts

that tree is still alive today

her new kitchen requires plenty
of counters and cabinets and a pantry
she can walk inside and shut the door
until both tornados and clipboard-carrying
salesmen pass by, where she now (usually) 
remembers the goodness of food
not the cruel calorie counts that 
almost killed
this frail, fickle human form
as she tried to shift her shape
not by righteous magic but dark
sacrifice, but those pernicious practices
will be banned in her forthcoming home
no, in this house

she'll know the goodness of bread
and cheese, and the views will
reveal sweet greenery
and a thousand reasons to smile
she'll feel at ease here, allowing
her soul to glow
in all its celestial glory
no worries about if her decor 
or self
are fashionable
or age-appropriate
this is a place where she can 
finally be at ease in a body
made resilient through years
that've thickened her like
a tree trunk
(if her core were sampled
the proof would show in the rings)
at ease in a house
that, like her, creaks in spots
and sags
maybe even has a leak or two
but knows the coziness of
a solid foundation
and understands just how 
to make her feel at home

Copyright © 2023 by Beth Cato

  • Beth Cato

    Nebula Award-nominated Beth Cato is the author of A Thousand Recipes for Revenge from 47North (out June 1, 2023) plus two fantasy series from Harper Voyager. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.