My mother and I arrived in Hanoi after two weeks of traveling—the longest we’d spent alone together since my sisters were born. I was helping her with a suitcase when another piece of baggage slipped from my mouth. In our room, I told her about when I was eleven. I sat on the hotel bed and I cried. It was winter and the white sheets were tucked so tightly over my feet as if to make me dance en pointe. It wasn’t enough. I pulled at the tissues, then at the blanket, and wrapped myself in a great ball gown of imploding lace. Another weight to barely move under. My mother is an artist, a photographer. She took out her camera and, for an hour, photographed me crying. “The light is excellent,” she said. “Look at the snow disappearing into the lake.” There was no snow, none, and we couldn’t see the lake. But it was her way of saying, If I don’t have distance, what then can I give?




Kathryn McMahon is a queer American writer living abroad with her British wife and dog. Her stories have appeared in places such as FLAPPERHOUSE, Third Point Press, Atticus Review, Booth, Passages North, The Cincinnati Review, Jellyfish Review, and Split Lip. Her work has received various nominations and has been selected for Wigleaf’s Top 50. Recently, she was a finalist for the SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction. She tweets as @katoscope. Find more of her writing at

“Snow” is the winner of the 2018-19 Ryan R. Gibbs Award for Flash Fiction, judged by Colin Winnette. Please see our contest page for more information.