I think I like it better as flash fiction.




She pushes the plate at the boy.  It is piled high, cornmeal mush with Mrs. Butterworth’s and sausage.  Eat everything you can, she says as she picks up the cigarette from its perch. It lay burning and balanced on the edge of the table, ash dropping to the floor.  She presses the sandwich baggie with ice to her cheek.

The man out back is making noise, banging with wrenches, cussing and pounding until the truck starts.   A hail of grinding metal throws gravel against the side of the house.

The boy cleans the plate as she stands smoking at the kitchen sink, her back to him.  She is  watching the man race the trash pickup over to highway 31 and Jimmy’s Place.  He will be back when the $20 is gone.

The boy leaves the room to return with a full gym bag.  She watches the road, smoking the cigarette to the butt, the baggie on her face

Smoke spirals to the ceiling and disappears in the grimy, peeling paint.  She tosses the butt in the sink and it hisses then turns around and looks at the gym bag on the table.

I’m taking my books this time, the boy says.


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