Two Brief Fictions by Lucinda Kempe

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hard Things

None of this made sense—not “Your pussy is a toilet I flush my sperm down” nor “It’s your job to give me sex”, and not even the punch you gave me when I asked if your mama had raised you right—until you told me the tale about your dog, the one you said you loved. At nineteen, you were stationed in the army, nine hundred miles from your island home. You found a black and tan colored puppy that became your best bud.  He accompanied you on night patrols and slept by your side. Your bosom companion, you housed him outside the barracks every day for twenty-two months of duty. You rubbed his scruff, brushed his coat and trimmed his nails. You named him βασιλιάς (King) and fed him from your plate.

When the time came to leave, it was impossible, you said, to bring him home. Your Mama didn’t want a mongrel in her house. No one else stepped up. So you shot him in the head with your military rifle and left him—who knows where?

You didn’t say.

You just said, “I know how to handle hard things.”


Her garden this season has woes. Borers harbored in the irises’ roots. The peonies barely bloomed. The climbing rose’s buds were bleak. Four of her eight deciduous azaleas flowered. The flowers on their leafless stems looked like skeletal old ladies with thinning orange hair.

Her container pots are pornographic in display. The Brandywines’ toms and Black Beauties’ eggplants shrivel into balls. Thumb-size fetuses drop unassisted off the squash. The cucumbers yield freaks wearing condom hats.

In the fall, she can spray the irises’ rhizomes, lift the peonies’ roots to the proper two-inch height for flowering and re-fertilized and trim the rose. Organic dust can douse the azaleas’ leaves. Peat and manure can amend the dirt.

But what is she to do with red and purple nubbins, self-aborting squash and blatant cukes?

Take the hint and get her nourishment from more fertile soil.


Lucinda Kempe lives on Long Island in an Arts & Crafts style house where she exorcises with words. Corium, Every Day Fiction, Referential Magazine, and Matter Presshave recently published her work.

© 2012 – 2013, Metazen.

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