Winter 2019 Fiction

Kara Vernor

Mood

 

He said he could kill me. He was the third man to say it. That made three of them: infants gumming my ribs, trying for a nipple I wouldn’t give them. I felt them all now under my bedsheet—those baby-sized older men, bald, with fingernail specks and excess skin. I pulled the sheet tight, trapped them beneath like a fart I didn’t want to smell, while I thought about a permanent fix. Unfortunately, it would be a mess.

I picked up each baby-man by the ear and set him on the hardwood in front of the armoire. Their limbs flailing, their tongues lapping at air, I tried to summon some sympathy, some words of departure. But their rage faces, their worming forehead veins, stopped my thoughts of ceremony. It was a breeze to pull over my hickory wardrobe. One loud thwack, and intestines exploded against my calves.

I climbed onto the tipped box and nestled into the pillow of my arm. There were four hours left of night, and I was in no mood to clean up after anyone.

 

 

Stooges

 

The guts of my enemies are like the guts of my friends. All those slick organs, that custardy fat. All that human potential. I was scrubbing my ankles and having feelings, or else chest pains. 

As children we watched The Three Stooges. They were loud men then, all bonks and honks and slaps. I should have listened underneath the noise, colored-in their black and white ha-ha’s. My sister tried—hammered my head and pushed the babysitter down the stairs. Someone was always titty-twisting the dog. It was the suburbs. It wasn’t supposed to hurt.

 

 

Food

 

Those guts weren’t going to disappear themselves, so I spatulaed a lump into the blender and dumped in some whey protein and cranberry juice. I agreed to a bit of chest hair I didn’t prefer but couldn’t pick out. The pink blend was thick with flesh pulp and tasted like the carob version of murder. Man 1 was a genius of art. Man 2 came back with PTSD. Man 3 said he loved women’s rights. The best thing was: I didn’t have to understand. My body would do the parsing, would push out what it could not use.

 

 

 


Kara Vernor’s fiction has appeared in Wigleaf, The Los Angeles Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Fanzine, and elsewhere, and her fiction chapbook, Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song, is available from Split Lip Press. She is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation scholarship, and her stories have been included in Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions, the Best Small Fictions finalists, and Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California

 


 

 

 

Lovers Tarot Card

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.