My Mama Kissed a Cockroach (But Really She Did. Learn Why in My Personal Essay About Choices and Compassion, and Roaches, Don’t Forget Those Roaches, and I Ain’t Talking ‘60s Slang for Marijuana, This Is Actual Creepy Crawly Vermin, Y’all)
Choice is a cornerstone of American society. The songs my classmates and I learned in grade school heralded freedom of choice—room for us all—as the unifying force that made the United States stand above other countries. “Sweet land of liberty” and “This land was made for you and me” rang with conviction from our throats as we serenaded the luminaries of our constricted lives during pageants and concerts. To an extent, that freedom has always had a one-dimensional quality, with “you vs. me” more common than “you and me” outside the walls of the crepe-papered auditorium.
Read the rest of this fabulously intriguing essay here:
Color Blind (Eco-Fiction That Covers Extinctions, Sesame Street, Apocalypse, Sekhmet, Angels, Dead Girls, My Real-life Brother’s Bands, & Cats — All in Under 1,700 Delicious Words)
The Panamanian golden frogs died first. Extinct but for a few stray specimens stored with hermetic zeal in zoo laboratories. Scientists fretted, as did some intrepid reporters from National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the New Yorker. The Panamanians were devastated. They considered the golden frog their national emblem and put its likeness on their key chains and coffee mugs. No one else cared. After all, the golden frogs were frogs, not puppies, and other things were golden: daffodils, tomato blossoms, the sun, Big Bird. …
Read the complete story here:
Wallow (A Fictional Account of a Sin Eater, Which Sounds Kinda Kinky, but No, It’s More of a Study of Good and Evil, plus Some High Fashion)
I’m a little gassy today. I ate an extra-large serving of sin last night, and it didn’t go down easy. I’m not talking about simple gluttony. I enjoy the occasional second dessert as much as anyone. I’m a bona fide sin eater. It’s the family business.
We’re relative newcomers to the field. Veritable upstarts, according to some. Sin eating came into its own during the trials of the dead in ancient Egypt. Not even a pharaoh could be buried until 42 religious bureaucrats quizzed the next of kin on the life and character of the departed. That sounds excessive, I know, but it matched the number of officials believed to be in the court of Osiris, the god of the afterlife. …
Hmm … This short story (second one I ever published, so like the first one, it might not be my greatest) was originally in print at Side B magazine, which appears to have completely disappeared from the Internet.
But you can listen to me read it here because it was the 2011 Side B/Drum Dual Publication Award Winner (and aren’t you just itching to hear me tell you a story):
Bunnies Bathing (aka My First-Ever Published Short Story, Called ‘Quiet’ at the Time, so Might not Be Good, but You City Folk Will Learn a Survival Skill to Prepare You for Any Coming Apocalypse, so Read on, Knowledge = Power)
How to kill a rabbit:
Step One. Put the rabbit on a flat surface and hold it behind the head.
Step Two. Hit the rabbit on the top of the head with a hammer. One sharp blow right between the ears, and the rabbit will convulse and die. There is little blood.
Step Three. Slit the rabbit’s throat.
Step Four. Hold the rabbit upside down by the feet. There is some blood, though nothing on par with a butchered hog. Let the blood drain out onto the ground or into a bucket.
Step Five. Dress the rabbit:
To learn how to dress the rabbit — and read the rest of this short story, go here:
Salivate: A Short Fiction of Alcoholic Weaning (Actually While Details Are Fictional, That Part Is True but My Parents Are Still Alive, so You Know, It’s 100% Fiction for the Foreseeable Future)
Sunday: Day 1/Week 1
I drink every day, have for years. At the age of twenty-nine, it’s my one committed activity. Wine is my thing, or gin and tonic if I go to a nightclub. I can’t just stop. I try to picture myself: one day with alcohol, the next without it forever. The image won’t coalesce. I can’t afford rehab, and Alcoholics Anonymous smacks of group activities, which are beyond me since the great Girl Scouts debacle of my youth. My options are: (1) revel Mardi Gras-style or (2) create a strategy using my own brand of steps to plod toward an alcohol-free existence.
I’m starting today. Sunday is the nominal day of rest, so I’m going to stop drinking on Sundays. When I feel OK with that, I’ll add in Mondays, then Tuesdays, and so on and so forth until I’m clear seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Doing Monday next will give me forward momentum. A white lie. I can’t face Friday and Saturday. Christ, I hyperventilate at the thought of a weekend without alcohol. The corked maw of sobriety is frightening enough. I’ll begin with the easiest days and work my way up. …
Read the rest of this short story here: http://www.thegreatsmokiesreview.org/2014/stories/salivate/
The female nether regions divide Americans into two distinct camps. On one side are the people who cannot bring themselves to say, hear, or read the word vagina no matter how legitimate the circumstances that prompt its use. Depending on whether they over-identify with daytime talk show hosts or public leaders, the anti-vagina crowd either reverts to baby talk (e.g., vajayjay) or condemns the dictionary-approved terminology as profanity and debauchery most vile. Sexual repression being the obvious diagnosis, I can do nothing but feel sorry for the stricken and wield the word with purpose and clarity whenever warranted.
What worries me and even pushes me to the point of active dislike is the growing multitude on the opposite end of the spectrum — the ones who are comfortable using the edgier c*nt as an everyday, casual obscenity. C*nt as insult has been around a long time and, within the hierarchy of derogatory expletives, is still one of the worst as far as I can tell from my middle-aged perspective. But it’s everywhere …
Read my complete essay, which includes a case study on positive objectification featuring the lovely Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon and his fandom, here:
Be warned: C*nt is written out in full glory in the essay itself.
Seventy-four bottles of yellow mustard; 58 bags of croutons; 40 cans of prepared pasta; 53 boxes of dried pasta, including 19 macaroni-and-cheese dinners; 49 bottles of hot sauce; 22 cans of chili with beans; 24 bottles of salad dressing; 26 cans each of corn and peas; 33 cans of tomato sauce; 31 cans of soup; 25 boxes of grits; 17 boxes of waffles; 13 pizzas; 20 family-size entrees; 36 bags of vegetables; and nine boxes of chicken nuggets.
On TV, savvy couponers make this kind of food haul in a single trip to the grocery store, paying in the neighborhood of $39.52, including tax, on a $793.18 bill. I spent eight long months stockpiling these items in my basement, where I carved out a food storeroom by commandeering space from my husband’s workshop and the children’s play area. According to my spreadsheet, the bill totaled $442.93 plus an additional $169.38 for long-term structural investments such as a chest freezer and a metal shelving system.
Read the rest of this short story here:
I was making tea in the kitchen at the back of the house when I heard a boom followed by the tinkling sound of broken glass. A car accident on the street, that’s what I thought. I jogged forward a few steps into the dining room, stopping short under my thrift-store chandelier.
A gloved hand was coming through a pane of glass on my front door. The glove was knit with a thick, shiny white yarn and covered with brown leather patches on the fingers and palm. The hand was attached to an arm, nicely muscled and covered in a gray thermal T-shirt. The door was opening before the hand turned the lock. It had shattered in the frame to the left of the handle. …
Read the rest at: http://superstitionreview.asu.edu/issue11/nonfiction/caralyndavis
Like everyone who trolled the Internet, Susannah occasionally enjoyed some porn. No live webcams, videos, or photographs. An educated single woman, she was a purist. She enjoyed the written word. Some unpleasant surprises marked her initial forays into the seamier side of electronic life, but Susannah had persisted in sussing out a few key sites that blended medium-level smut with enough plot and characterization to keep her from feeling too grimy post-denouement.
Susannah’s general introduction to pornography had occurred in high school via the local Goodwill store. She discovered a tome among the used books that she thought was “The Marquise of O— and Other Stories” by Heinrich von Kleist, which her English teacher recommended she read to assess the technical details. Susannah was in a hurry, not remembering the specific title or author, but firm in her mind about the “O,” so she plucked the book off the shelf. …
Read the rest of this short story here:
My short story, “Say When,” has been published at Deep South, an online magazine featuring all things Southern.
As a friend of mine said, when a telephone “brays” in the first line, there is a definite drawl to the piece. But before cell phones and ring tones, that’s what land lines did. The phones were like little donkeys calling out for food and a good petting.
The story may amuse (or horrify) — and it’s free.