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"Spearminty"--short story excerpt

Thursday 5/27/21

From Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives.


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My inclination in college was for being the protective type. Mother hen. Yard boss. I’d cam for money and use the handle “Spearminty” because being a Susan I liked the alliteration, not that the guys usually knew my other name. If they asked why I’d chosen what I had, I’d say, “Don’t you like something to suck on?” which didn’t make much sense, but worked well enough when men are in a certain mood or way. We’d get really drunk, my friends and me, pretty much four nights a week. But I’d get the least drunk, so I did the protecting. They’d stray off as we went from party to party. I felt like a shepherdess. “No one here is getting fucked,” I’d say, on account that we wouldn’t have been making the best choices. They wouldn’t have even been our choices, given our states. I was zealous. I didn’t need thank yous. Safety and well-being were gratitude enough. I thought I’d make a kickass mom. Bomb mom. But I couldn’t keep them all together. I didn’t own them. A shepherdess has a kind of stick. The crook. I didn’t have that. We’d go our own ways. Maybe not on a Thursday night. But definitely by some point after midnight on Friday when the girl power dissipated. Sometimes we’d have a fight. I didn’t used to understand why people said, “He stabbed her in broad daylight,” as if it mortgaged less of your mortality to be cut into at night and the well-lit stabbing was worse. Produced a less-closable wound. But I also kind of got the nocturnal predilection for some forms of awful things when one of the girls, walking off, would turn and say to me, “Jesus fucking Christ, Susan, I just want to get laid for once,” and I’d be grateful the sun wasn’t out to show more of me just standing there. The boy would have a look on his face like my grandfather Alf did when the pumpkin pie came out at Thanksgiving. He didn’t have any teeth so he couldn’t eat the turkey. He’d just look at all of us while we did, eyes going around the table, like he was studying your physiognomy and brain waves, paying super high attention to your thoughts, but I knew he was thinking, “What I wouldn’t do for some motherfucking bird.” Once my grandmother said that she could puree some turkey breast for him and I swear he looked at her as if he wanted to stab her in the throat, though they were very much in love. Pumpkin pie is like solid, but soft, soup. That was his wheelhouse. I wanted him to say what I would have been thinking if I was him when that pie came out. “My time, bitches.” But he just wolfed down a fat, slabby slice, then went for more. He didn’t look at you then, and the proffered whipped cream was the rejected whipped cream, all with a flashing wave of his fork. Old Silver. Like he was the Lone Ranger of Dessert.