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Bite History by Eliezra Schaffzin | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

November 15, 2010      

Bite History by Eliezra Schaffzin

The woman said, does the dog have a bite history. Josh looked over his shoulder at Furman, who was curled up on the mat in the middle of the room. It was the kind of mat you step on when you get out of the shower. It was a very dirty pink. I could tell Josh was thinking hard about the question. He turned back to the window and bent his neck a little so the woman could hear him through the hole in the glass. I don’t know, he hasn’t told us, Josh said. The woman’s eyebrows dropped over the lids of her eyes. Her lips snapped up to touch her nostrils. I’d never seen a face fold up like that. It made me think of the tent we’d assembled and disassembled the night before, just to make sure we were ready. The woman said, do you want us to take the dog or don’t you. You look like you have plans. I shifted in my heavy boots. My socks slipped a little on the fleece lining. Josh said, okay, no. The woman said, no what? Josh said, no he does not have a bite history. Fine, said the woman, and pressed a buzzer on her desk. A door the size of the bath mat slid open under the glass window. Furman rose, shook himself, and walked right through. Josh had told me this was a top-rate place, the perfect chance for us to get away. We need some time to forget, he’d said. The woman stood and smoothed her skirt as Furman trotted out from under her desk. She picked up a little circle of glass, stuck it inside the hole in the big glass, and jiggled it until we couldn’t see where the hole had been. She turned off the light. Then we heard her heels and Furman’s toenails click down a hallway we couldn’t see. I felt a bead of sweat drip down from where it had built up under my backcountry bra. It reminded me of something, but now it was too dark to think. Josh turned his flashlight on and aimed it at the bath mat. Under the beam, it looked addled and gray. Okay, Josh said. Let’s get that tent up.

About the author:

Eliezra Schaffzin has taught writing at Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Her short works crouch here and there in cyberspace: the short story “Minutes From Here,” first published in Barrelhouse, is on display at, and a brief essay is forthcoming with AGNI Online. She is currently at work on a novel-length manuscript—a story of magic, seduction, and the early-American department store for which she received a grant from the New-York Historical Society, where she scoured the archives for facts that need not be taken literally.

    1 comment to Bite History by Eliezra Schaffzin

    • Hi Ms. Eliezra Schaffzin,

      How are you? I attended your class in Beginning Fiction at Harvard Summer School in 2009. I had a little girl then and now have two 😉

      How are you? Are you in Boston this time of the year? How’s you’re book? Any new plans of coming to Sao Paulo?

      I am presently working at a non-profit NGO called Associacao Crescer Sempre. It is a school for the “favela” of Paraisopolis in Sao Paulo, Brazil. So as to improve our school administration I’d like to know what method Harvard uses to measure/ evaluate/ assess – its faculty and administration. How does the administration known if a teacher or principal is good or bad, basicly. We are still beginning to get organized and this would really help me out!!


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