Iowa Writes

KATE MARSHALL
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"You're this much taller than my dad's cock."  The boy strikes the living room wall and spins to face me on the tips of his Keds.  With his thumb, he hooks the waist band of his slick black shorts. 
        "Oh."  I reach and touch the smudge where his hand was, and curl my bare toes tight on the wood floor. 
        "A friend of your dad's from the east," Mom said when they came last night.  "Flew in just to see us." 
        A fly lands on my nose but I don't budge.  From the porch, I hear ice cubes break and Mom and his dad say, "Cheers" and my dad says, "Yeah, school days," and he sounds sad and I hear him jiggle around in his chair. 
        "You like it out here?"  His dad talks fast like at the sale where the man on the stand held up a stick and other men raised their hands when a bull calf was pulled from the big barn.

"You're this much taller than my dad's cock."  The boy strikes the living room wall and spins to face me on the tips of his Keds.  With his thumb, he hooks the waist band of his slick black shorts. 
        "Oh."  I reach and touch the smudge where his hand was, and curl my bare toes tight on the wood floor. 
        "A friend of your dad's from the east," Mom said when they came last night.  "Flew in just to see us." 
        A fly lands on my nose but I don't budge.  From the porch, I hear ice cubes break and Mom and his dad say, "Cheers" and my dad says, "Yeah, school days," and he sounds sad and I hear him jiggle around in his chair. 
        "You like it out here?"  His dad talks fast like at the sale where the man on the stand held up a stick and other men raised their hands when a bull calf was pulled from the big barn. 
        "I bet you never saw your Mom's . . ."  The boy says a word that I heard once that I know not to say as he pumps his fist through a loop he makes with his arm.
        The fly bites my nose.  "You're from New—"
        "York. The plane was cool.  My dad let me taste his gin.  OOH baby."  He makes a noise like he's sucking out an egg.  Then he jumps and puts a fat thumb print way up on the wall.  Mom will be mad 'cause she hates stains. 
        On the porch Mom's laugh is high and fast, like church bells that ring all at once and can't stop.  "I miss that," she says." She lets out her whole breath with the sigh.  "Life."
        "Life is what you do," the man says.  "That's the whole thing.  Don't stay where it don't pay." 
        "Where's the ex?"  My dad's voice is stronger now.  "Still in Maine?"
        On the porch, I hear Mom get up from her chair.  "Things just happen," she says.
        The boy spins and toots a loud one.  "Smell my fart," he says.  His voice drops.  "Pretty powerful, huh?"
        The fly bites my cheek and I slap it.  I look at my hand.  There's a red stain.  The fly's body is mashed but the legs still twitch.

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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


KATE MARSHALL

Kate Marshall is a writer living in Boulder, Colorado.  This flash fiction piece was written at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

This page was first displayed
on September 23, 2014

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