Poetry/Flash Fiction, by Margot Douaihy

The Price Is

Margot Douaihy, come on down! Yes. You heard it. They said your name and you run. No, you dance-run in two/four-time down the aisle of the Bob Barker Studio in Burbank, California, past the screaming contestants, past the gigantic $ sign, the danciest of all symbols. After smoking One Bid, Plinko, and The Big Wheel, you’re there, in the Showcase and it’s there, with the jet ski and kitchen set. The Whirlpool Dishwasher. It’s the dishwasher you’ve been stalking. It’s the only dishwasher. Despite your Superwoman Stance, removing your rings before your final bid, the way the girls you loved in Scranton slipped off their rings before a fistfight, you bid eleven-thousand dollars too high. You lose. Anthony from Detroit is so on the money he wins both Showcases and the Whirlpool Dishwasher. As the crowd roars, it overwhelms you, the knowledge, the way a dishwasher scalds and floods. Is it your destiny to always place second, to come up short? Your price wasn’t right, it may never be, even though you wanted the Whirlpool Dishwasher more than any other appliance, more than a dishwasher wants to wash dishes, and if you had won, you would install in your little blue house the Whirlpool Dishwasher and it would wash your favorite coffee mug—the mug emblazoned with a picture of your blue house with the window through which you can clearly see into the kitchen and inside the kitchen is the Whirlpool Dishwasher which means inside the dishwasher is the house mug and inside the house mug is the Whirlpool Dishwasher and inside it is the mug and it would have been infinite, this Möbius strip of delight, because a dishwasher cleanses, protects, and delivers you from evil, therefore, the Whirlpool Dishwasher is God. Maybe if you believed deeply enough, you would have guessed the right price. When people ask you, as they often do, How do I know you? Your face is so familiar! You say, well, I was on The Price is Right, but your price was very wrong and this world is sometimes very wrong. You can never take back the bad bid. You can never take back the stupid things you said, the reckless things you did, the lies you told, the times you couldn’t get out of your own way, when you were the danger, the whirlpool, the Charybdis, and you’re not fixed, your price is still not right, but now, now, you are stepping in. You’re coming on down! Into all of it—the sky on fire, the ash rain, the tyranny, the house with no Whirlpool Dishwasher, the walnut tree that’s sick but still tall enough for a lost hawk to land, among hunter-green leaves like the eyes of a kaleidoscope. Does it matter if the price is wrong or right? It’s the cost of being, the price you will pay to try, to lose. and you will pay and pay and pay and pay.


Ask me anything, go ahead.[1][2][3][4][5]

Ask me about Scranton (the rust dust, leaf-dark air, chrome diners, stained-glass windows, gorgeous torment of flooded coal mines, the collective pain).

Ask me about being a twin (the stereo echoes, the science experiment, the doubling, forking paths of tricks).

Ask me about hawks, their laser eyes, their elegance and terrifying grace.

Ask me about SIGH, a sonic ache, a way to pause time, sink lower, die slower. 

Ask me about why I think love is as real as rolling thunder.

Ask me about irony, iron, eons, neon, The Periodic Table, how the human body holds .02 mg of gold and therefore the human body is equal parts Magic and Science.

Ask me about the summer everything changed.

Ask me about time (if you have the time).

Ask me about vortices and paradoxes and why it feels good to cry, to shiver sometimes.

Ask me about birdsong, because I want an excuse to walk into the woods together.

Ask me about books that make me levitate, pages that smell like petrichor.

Ask me anything. I’m an open book.

[1] Except about leaving New Orleans with the dog and one backpack, how I didn’t have the decency to explain
[2] and definitely not about the haunted hotel above the luthier (how could we have known?)
[3] and avoid 2020 (the whole year)
[4] and skip the time we drew with sparklers and set the shed on fire 
[5] and how accidentally setting the shed on fire was like drawing with night itself, opening a hydrant of fire and watching liquid crystal, a reverse chandelier, power out

Margot Douaihy, PhD, is the author of three poetry collections and the novel Scorched Grace, the inaugural title of Gillian Flynn Books. Scorched Grace was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, the Best Book of 2023 by Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, BookPage, and Marie Claire, and it has been optioned for a screen adaptation. Margot was named the Best Author of 2023 by Boston Magazine.