Iowa Writes

JANE BANNING
Chaff (part 2)


         Paul turned from the computer, a quick twitch in his eyelid.
        "Jack, your mom called.  Again.  She's inordinately worried about whether to roast a pig or have prime rib for the ceremony.  Can you please just call her?"
        "I'll call.  You know how she gets."       
        "God, why won't she just chill?  This is starting to feel like a much bigger production than I thought."

         Paul turned from the computer, a quick twitch in his eyelid.
        "Jack, your mom called.  Again.  She's inordinately worried about whether to roast a pig or have prime rib for the ceremony.  Can you please just call her?"
        "I'll call.  You know how she gets."       
        "God, why won't she just chill?  This is starting to feel like a much bigger production than I thought."
***

        Jack first found the short, white hairs on Paul's sport coat, then on his pants and socks.
        "What's up with this white hair on your clothes?" Jack asked.  They sat in lawn chairs at dusk, knees not touching.
        "Oh, that's just from Shotzi.  You know Kevin from work?  She's his new Shih-tzu puppy.  What a darling."
        Jack asked, playfully, "Who's 'the darling': Kevin or the dog?"
        "Jack?  Just drop it.  Don't go there."
        A slow, sick turning began as the leaves budded:  the puzzling, mucky arguing, the affronts and silences.  Paul worked late; Jack curled away from Paul's side of the bed and clutched a pillow.  Then they had another blowup, a red-faced fight about Kevin, and Paul left a note on the hallway table:  I can't do this.  You can have all my stuff. 
        Gone.
        Jack threw up.  He called in sick and stopped eating.  His mother phoned over and over and said, "You sound terrible.  What's wrong?"  Jack said he had a bug, he'd get over it.  He told himself he'd tell her later.  Once he got over it.
***

        The cab idled next to his parent's fields and the stern rows of corn and wheat.  A lone light in the barnyard flickered, fuzzy with moths.
        The house stood humbly.  Orange daylilies glowed in a vase and he smelled a pig roasting out back.  All around, the land lay fecund and well-tended.  Tomorrow, no matter what, Pop would drive from one end of the field to the next, love and tedium crowded into the warm cab of the tractor.  Mom would feed the livestock and cut pie into clean wedges, lay plates and forks in their comforting places.  Nothing and everything in their world had changed.
        "Here you go, my boy," Willard said from the front seat of the cab, hand on the steering wheel.  The dashboard backlit his frizzled ear hairs.  "Your mama and daddy'll be awful glad to see you."  He beamed a broken picket fence smile.  "Good people, your folks.  You know that."
        Jack knew that.  Knew it very well.
        "Thanks for the ride, Willard."
        "Yup, see ya."
        Jack hefted the heavy suitcase out of the trunk.  Lopsided, weaving, he walked through the dusty dark toward the house.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JANE BANNING

Jane Banning was born and raised in Iowa and received a BS from Iowa State University and a MSSW from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has received honorable mentions in the 2008 Micro Fiction Contest and the 2009 Glass Woman Prize Contest, and a semi-finalist designation in the 2012 Flash Fiction Chronicles Contest.  Her work has appeared in the University of Iowa's Daily Palette, Six Sentences, Long Story Short, Boston Literary Magazine, and Fiction365, among others.  She lives in Wisconsin and is working on her first novel, "Silo".

This is part 2 of 2.  For part 1 of Chaff, please visit yesterday's page.

This page was first displayed
on June 29, 2013

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