Sean Littlefield Chumley
My fiction inhabits the many moods of humanity. Even in the darkest moments, I find the capacity for joy. In addition to the short pieces here, I am also at work on a novel.
My fiction inhabits the many moods of humanity. Even in the darkest moments, I find the capacity for joy. In addition to the short pieces here, I am also at work on a novel.
The intent had been to name the girls Ruby and Scarlet, shades of red that would decorate the house. This whimsical nomenclature came as a surprise to Luke, their father, as everyone on both sides of the family wore their stoic names heavy on their shoulders. His wife, Mary Ann nee Childress, had a similar lineage and disposition, he had thought, until they sought to conceive a child. It was rumored that the Childresses possessed a sip of Apalachee blood dating back to the colonies. Luke believed the rumor to be true, based on Mary Ann’s proclivities for leather goods and orgasmic ululations.
He had been proud to see his wife’s belly grow big and bigger, as if the distention of her figure were an affirmation of his virility. Watching her call the servants to help lift her from her luncheon chair thrilled him so completely that he took his pride into his own hands and found completion into the nearest latrine. The corsets built to accommodate her expanding, firm gut aroused in him a desire to rip the things from her body, to rend the brocades and silks and crinolines she draped over the swell. When she grew further out than any one baby Luke or Dr. Dollybird had seen in a woman they explored the possibilities of multiple live births. When Dr. Dollybird detected the second heartbeat, Mary Ann was overcome with emotions so abundant that she felt buoyed upon a happy sea of feathered wings. “I suppose that is quite fine,” she said, and Luke agreed: “It will do, Mother.”
The birth started just before breakfast at the last of June, 1899. Abbigail, Mary Ann’s house girl, had only just begun lacing that day’s corset when the water broke. “Miss,” she said, mistaking it for urine, “too tight again?” After receiving a quick slap across her cheekbones, Abbigail stumbled down the grand staircase to the stables where she found the groom, Antoine, sharing his treacly lunch bread with Athena, the prized mare. Antoine took his mount and cantered into town proper crying the birth in the town square for all to hear, as he had forgotten where the physician lived. Abbigail, meanwhile, struggled under the weight of the cast-iron kettle to put water on for boiling.
Dr. Dollybird arrived with his jar of leeches and took Abbigail into Mary Ann’s suite and sat Luke on a settee just outside the door where the childbirthing shrieks evoked in him not a concern for her life, but a lust so profound he felt faint, recovering his composure on his knees before a chamber pot with an unwashed set of Mary Ann’s lacy bloomers stuffed into his mouth to stifle his ejaculations. Abbigail found him at the inopportune moment to tell him the first child had been delivered and the second would come directly. It was 11:23pm.
The second baby took nearly an hour, arriving at quarter past midnight on July 1. Delirious from the tribulation of discharging twins, Mary Ann dispensed with the sanguine names, preferring, instead, the names of the months the girls were born, June and July. Luke held the screaming infants in his arms and felt a relief, as he never liked the name Ruby. Scarlet he did not mind, but he saw no sense in giving the girls the mismatched names, one of month and the other, color. Mary Ann wagered there wasn’t another set of twins in the great state of Georgia born in separate months, and fell deeply into a postpartum slumber.
I sat in my car watching people walk to the restaurant, looking for someone who looked like he owed people money. I pictured Frank average height, a little chunky, a heavy five o’clock shadow, with slobby clothes and unkempt hair. That’s exactly how he ended up looking, but that’s how most of the Ryan’s Steakhouse customers looked, men and women alike, so it was hard to guess which one was Frank. At 6:28 I got out of my car and stepped into the restaurant. I wore a kind of draped green shirt that buttons up halfway. My boss calls it a blouse. I tucked the front into my jean shorts and left the back out to drape over my flat butt.
Before you go through the turnstiles to get to the buffet, Ryan’s has a long bench against the front wall that lines the window from the door to the corner. A family with somewhere between four and eleven kids sat along the bench, with Frank at the end. I knew him immediately. He looked like a slob who had failed to hide how big a slob he is. Honestly that’s my type. I like a guy who’s a little big, a little messy. A guy who tries to try but fails. You don’t meet a lot of gay guys like that. He stood up when he saw me and hiked up his too-big jeans.
“Hubba, Hubba,” he said. “You look great. I mean, really great. I like how flat you are.”
“How smart of you to notice,” I said. I tossed my hair, which I keep kind of long, shoulder length.
“I want you to know dinner’s on me. And eat anything you want. I mean it. Get whatever you like.”
He paid at the turnstile and we walked to the buffet. He followed me from one chafing dish to the next, scooping up identical portions to my plate. I stopped him after maybe the third one.
“Are you following me?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t call it following,” he explained. “I just wanted to experience this the same way you will.
Like we’re having this moment together and I just wanted us to have like the same experience so when we talk about it someday we’ll reminisce over the same things.”
He really knew how to knock me for a loop. It had to be the sweetest, weirdest thing I’d ever heard on a first date. See it’s these slob, bearish guys that really know how to surprise you.
“What about all the stuff you wanted to eat?” I asked once we’d settled into our booth.
“I’d give up all my favorite foods to be with you. I really mean that. Even pizza pocket puffs. And I don’t say that lightly.”
We talked and ate like that for the rest of the meal. Frank asked if I wanted a second plate of food, and
I saw how badly he did, so I told him sure.
“This time you pick the food,” I said. “I’ll eat what you like.”
That man piled four fried chicken thighs on my plate on top of a slice of pepperoni pizza. He topped it off with crinkle-cut fries. For once I didn’t think about the calories. It was fun! I licked three kinds of grease off my fingers and wrists.
“That’s smart,” Franks said, “licking the grease. I usually just wipe it on myself.”
For dessert we collaborated on an apple pie a la mode sundae with a slice of yellow cake on the side. Frank had swirled too much hot fudge onto the soft serve so that it dripped over the lip of the bowl and onto his thumb. He set the bowl down on our table and licked his hand.
“Look at me! I’m smart like you, Andy!”
I intentionally spilled some chocolate on myself, sprinkles all over my knuckles like little rainbow hairs.
“Wanna help me lick it off?” I asked Frank.
His eyes got big. He sandwiched my wrist between his meaty, greasy hands. I leaned over the table as he lifted it to his lips. Remember when I said guys like Frank are full of surprises? He opened his lips and slid my whole hand into his mouth, all the way down to the wrist. His tongue wrapped around each finger and darted into the little crotches in between. He sucked on my knuckles like sunflower seeds. He even polished my cuticles.
When he gave my hand back to me I spread my fingers wide and his saliva made slimy little webs between them. I opened my hand up wider and wider until the spittle popped and fell in ropes against my palm. I wiped it on my napkin and took a spoonful of the cake. I let Frank finish the ice cream.
Outside the glass door we stood kind of awkwardly, as if we didn’t know what to do with one another outside the confines of the restaurant. Frank reached out for my hand, so I gave it to him. He led me around the parking lot and told me about his aunt who had died a few months prior.
“She made a cheesecake for my birthday one year,” he told me. “The table was too full so we started cutting slices and putting the plates on the floor. I slipped and fell in the cheesecake slices. Aunt Gertie told me I had to eat them, they were mine.”
“Sounds like she was an incredible woman,” I said as we swerved around the Dumpsters behind the building.
“No, not really. She accidentally bought the cream cheese with garlic and onions in it to make the cheesecake. And she made me eat it! She told us it was an accident, but.”
“You’d be surprised how easy that is. I once saw mayonnaise on a buffet and thought it was yogurt. I put fruit on top of it, ate it with Jell-O before I realized.”
“You are too cute. I think someday you’re gonna leave me behind. Oh, hey, there’s my car.”
I scanned the row of parking spots he’d pointed toward to try to guess. The back of the parking lot offered wider parking spots than the front, so mostly SUVs and vans parked here. I didn’t peg Frank for either of those, so the Volkswagen Jetta in a bright apple green had to be him.
“This baby’s why I got so much credit card debt. Ain’t she a beaut?” He rushed over to the VW and stuck his key in the lock. “Hey, what do you say we get in here and make out?”
Who could turn down an offer like that?
I expected the car to be as messy as Frank, but it was cleaner than mine. I wanted my car to look nice, but I spent so much time on my own appearance that I didn’t have time to clean the trash out of the passenger-side floorboard. At least that’s what I told myself. But I take a lot of time to get ready, and I spend a lot of time at the gym to stay skinny. I save time that I don’t have to shave my body. I was born smooth and even through puberty I stayed smooth. I have maybe four hairs on my chest and they’re all on my nipples. I’d shave my legs if they were hairy, but even they’re smooth.
While the other boys in middle and high school sprouted chest hair they also teased me for looking like a girl. All my friends had always been the girls, but that just seemed natural to me. We had things to talk about, whereas I didn’t have much in common with the guys. I’ve been called all the names there are, but it doesn’t bother me. Those names aren’t who I am. Fag, fairy, sissy. I don’t care. They don’t apply to me. I’m just Andy.
Frank leaned over and rubbed his stubbly cheek against mine.
“You don’t smell bad at all,” he said. “Not even this close.”
His breath chilled my neck and filled my nose with the thousand scents of the Ryan’s buffet. I tried to lick the side of his face, but he turned at the last second and I stuck my tongue right up his nose. He grunted deep in his throat, pulled me tight to him. Our faces pressed together so closely I couldn’t even take my tongue out of his nostril. Then he pulled back and held my chin with one of his lumpy hands. A couple seconds passed before he went in on me, and in those seconds I could feel my whole life changing.
Almost like watching a movie I saw his puckered lips land on my face. I think he opened his whole mouth and kissed my whole face all at once. I felt him everywhere. I don’t know how he did it, but he had a lip closed over my eyes, his tongue pushing past my teeth and the bottom lip to my chin. I’d never Frenched like that before, and right away I couldn’t get enough of it. At one point my nose must have brushed Frank’s uvula. Every few seconds he’d yank away from me gasping for breath.
Ten minutes like that and the car had already fogged up noticeably. I swooned, dizzy from the inconsistent oxygen. Frank fell back into the driver’s seat next to me, panting.
“Wowee,” he said. “That was something else. You’re amazing, Andy. I’m gonna call you Amazing Andy. Want me to drive you to your car?”
Frank dropped me off at my car and once I’d settled safely inside I watched him drive away. I put a hand to my heart and listened to it thump. When I looked in the mirror to back out of my parking spot I noticed a big hickey on my cheekbone from where Frank had tried to suck it out with the force of his tongue alone.
What can I say? I was smitten.
Nana Tommy, 1906
The wide, unfashionable bustle on her traveling dress caught in the door of her carriage as she attempted to exit gracefully, and the efforts Thomasin Calendar put into extracting herself–the flailing, the shrieking–afflicted her granddaughters, June and July, with a dismay so complete the girls hid behind their mother’s own full skirts. When Nana Tommy, as they had been encouraged to call her, chased them through the meandering hallways of the estate, she misjudged their tormented wails for jubilation and only antagonized them further until the girls, resigned to their defeat, collapsed into her arms to receive her moist kisses. Her fingers were of length enough to provide leverage and of a heft to supply sufficient force that when their grandmother pinched their small cheeks they took on bruises, a blush that lasted for several days thereafter.
After dinner the second night of her visit, Nana Tommy took her son’s armchair near the fire and placed his twins with their backs to the hearth and read them a Bible story before bed. She removed a pince-nez on a chain somewhere from the depths of her gown and fixed it in place. The pinching act and the magnification of Nana Tommy’s already-bulging azure eyes startled June so tremendously that the girl caterwauled. Unperturbed by the perturbations Nana Tommy brought the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to their rightful denouements, at which point July, too, took to sobbing.
“Let that be a lesson to you girls,” she said. “Beware the sodomites!” She then giggled her way into a productive cough.
On what was to be the final night of her stay, Nana Tommy did not come traipsing into the dining room for dinner when called. The family began a house-wide search for her, with Luke, her son, taking the guest wing. Mary Anne, his wife, and her house girl Abbigail tore apart the family bedrooms upstairs while June and July peeked their heads into the remaining rooms on the ground floor. It was in the drawing room that they found her, again in Luke’s chair by the fire.
“Nana Tommy!” they cried out in unison to no avail. “Nana Tommy!”
June and July held hands as they pressed their backs to the wall and circled toward their sleeping grandmother, who faced a roaring fire. When they came to the appropriate vantage they discovered that Nana Tommy had half fallen from her chair, her bustle likely the only thing keeping her erect. Her eyes bulged further yet than before, vacant and red-rimmed, and the provocative cast to her mouth had been revoked, and in its place they found a toothless maw trapped open in silent keening. One of her hands clutched viciously the arm of the chair while the other reached heavenward, its lengthy, girthsome fingers curled around a rope of pearls about her neck. The girls ran shrieking from the room.
Luke, too, shrieked upon seeing his mother’s cadaverous bearing. His attempts to close her eyes with his own fingertips were met with futility, and he did not revel in the texture of her tumescent eyeballs. Mary Anne, however, looked on the corpse as a victor. When Luke turned his back to the scene, Mary Anne parted her lips and protruded her tongue toward her late mother-in-law before walking smugly from the room.
June and July searched for their matching set of porcelain baby dolls to clutch during the funeral, but the moppets evaded discovery. Abbigail rummaged lackadaisically for the dolls, but her devotion to the task proved perfunctory. The girls climbed into the mourning carriage with empty arms crossed over chests when Luke presented them with a gift intended to bring solace.
“It is a likeness of Nana Tommy,” he explained of the horrid doll, but the depiction needed no clarification. Even the eyes had the same aqueous sheen and bloat. June accepted the doll, planning to shatter its bisque head at her first opportunity, but found, once given the liberty, she hadn’t the wherewithal for its destruction. July, however, summoned the gall and smashed the thing’s head against the brick side of the church as she entered. She only accomplished knocking out the thing’s lips, its head now a hollow, hungry gullet resembling perhaps too closely their grandmother’s death mask. Finding this alteration suitable enough, the girls took no further violation against the effigy.
Iola fancies herself a Greek Liz Taylor, and the world around her agrees. The world gives Iola violet contact lenses, disposable husbands and white diamond earrings to throw on top of stacks of money–and she takes it all while wearing white gowns and looking away from sunsets. She wears clip-on earrings despite her piercings because the weight of the stones makes her lobes droop, and for the dramatic effect yanking them off provides. They have never brought her luck, but she throws them anyway, and when they land on the tables–when they scatter the crudites, when they sink into the queso fundido, when they crash through the glass tabletop and the shards rain down onto the floor among the shreds of important papers–the room erupts into cries of Opa! and a bloodfoot dance that lasts all night.
Husband number three, the painter, wants to paint her, and she tells him, “Paint me in your dreams,” and then departs, divorced from emotion and husband–and outraged! What trembling hand would dare attempt her iconic beauty that only improved with age? What impertinent paintbrush would dare combine the tempera or oils to create the incomprehensible ivory of the tip of her nose, the devastating hazel-green-gold of her iris? She brought her new husband to the opening so that they could laugh at her ex-husband’s failure, but instead beheld ravishment. Iola herself sat before them at the selfsame wrought table overlooking the great bay of orange water, the precise orange of the precise moment at which she’d told the man, over ouzo, to paint her in his dreams.
The artist stood in the next room among unspectacular paintings, and Iola fought back discordant emotions that culminated in the yanking and throwing of her earrings: one through a still life of too many bananas, the other through a landscape interrupted by a terrific opening in the ground, out of which climbed lemony scorpions. The crowd turned, at once appalled, but then enraptured. The artist extended the arm in which he held his glass of white sangria and said, “Ladies, gentlemen, all others–I give you–” but his final word succumbed to the roar of the claque, whose shrieks and ovations needed no context. They threw themselves at her feet and wept into the hem of her pleated silk crepe. She looked about her, found her not-yet-ex-husband in the crowd and blew him one last annihilating kiss. He caught it in the air, clutched it in his fist and placed that fist against his heart, which made him feel weak unto death, so he took a knee. The artist remained as he’d been, with his hand outstretched, and as his muse perambulated toward him, the long heels of her high shoes sinking into the willing flesh of the devotees. He licked his lips as she approached, but she pressed a single stifling finger to them. He did not need to say it, her name. There was no one else she could have been–no one, save Iola.
June and July spent every June and July out of doors on the backs of horses until, at age eleven, disaster struck. They’d spent the morning listening on the wireless to the coronation of the new English king, who did not impress their father, but who their mother did find handsome in “a sort of British way–you don’t suppose?” Luke, the twins’ father, stormed off to cultivate a mustache that would rival George V. Though misguided, Luke’s foray into artful facial hair was not the aforementioned calamity.
Many of the helping hands around the home reported seeing the girls on their horses, Aristotle and Emily Dickinson, prancing sidesaddle through the indigo field. It came then as a shock to see July and Aristotle galloping toward the house while Emily Dickinson dragged June along by a foot caught hopelessly in the stirrup, the two of them soaked and streaked in the ichor from the swamp as if the sky, and not the ground, had opened up and rained fecund slime. For Luke the most shocking element was seeing his daughter’s skirts thrown over her head, her bloomers dirt-streaked and mottled with grass-blades. He made haste to his favorite chamber pot and took solace in his palm.
The girls refused to speak of the incident; or, rather, July refused to speak of it, as June, after the incident, no longer spoke about anything. The doctor, the same gentlemen who’d birthed them, stuck his finger in June’s mouth, and as a mere, breathy squeak came out in place of the instructed aahhhhh he came to his professional conclusion: “That’s a mute you got there, Mr. Calendar!” In his chart Dr. Dollybird notated the phrase “hysterical silence,” and began to formulate a treatment plan. When vibratory stimulation failed to elicit the expected response he found himself stymied, as the therapy worked perhaps too well on the girls’ mother, Mary Anne.
After the accident and her convalescence June began to take on weight, expanding to the limits that her garments and human decency would allow. July, as if in retaliation, found herself at an elevated height, seeming to double in length after her menarche. The formerly identical sisters had confounded their father up until that point, and still he struggled to tell them apart; not because he couldn’t tell the difference betwixt fat and thin, tall and short, silent and vocal, but because he had to summon the memory of which twin was fat, which was tall and why didn’t that damned girl answer him when he bellowed for her?
Though still inseparable, the girls began to show their differences. While ordering new sets of clothes to accommodate the revisions to their figures, July initially tended toward the staid dark fabrics familiar to her bureau. June, however, fingered the edge of a spool of bright fuschia, and would accept nothing less. She swirled the fabric around her and Mary Anne recognized that in such a vigorous hue no amount of corsetry would disguise her daughter’s distension. She prayed that she could pass it off as baby fat along with their good name as the time approached to find an opportune suitor. July, seeing June’s palette of brights, elected a shade of peach even the proprietor doubted, and thusly became somewhat known in Georgia for her garish taste in fashion, a reputation that would haunt her long into her spinsterhood.
My mother never died. When the doctor said cancer she sucked her teeth and said, “Well, that won’t do. That won’t do at all,” and she evicted the tumor on the spot. “Anything else, doc?” she asked. He wiped his rimless glasses on the hem of his mint-green sweater and said no after glancing at her chart. In the elevator down she held out her hand and said, “Whaddaya say, my boy? How about a Happy Meal?” The drive-thru speaker offered a boy toy or girl and my mother always knew to get the Barbie. I had the ballerina one that spun around on her pink base, the Japanese one with her flowing kimono sleeves, the holiday one in her white sleigh, Skipper, and my favorite, the mermaid whose tail changed colors in my hot bathwater. Where are they now? Where are they now?
Years earlier she cut a ragged hem on an old black dress and painted my face green. I carried a plastic jack o’lantern in one hand and a broomstick in the other. She walked me around a cul-de-sac a few blocks over from the house, hunting for M&Ms. “Got somethin’ to say?” she asked at a few of the doors. “You lookin’ at something?” An elderly woman called her husband over. It took him too long to arrive; my mother groaned, her free hand balled up on her hip, her foot tapping. The man’s glasses were thick and heavy and slid down his nose, and he wore on them a thick, red rope that looped behind his neck. The two of them, inching closer and closer to their deaths, stood there staring in dismay at the two of us. “So, you gonna give him some candy or not?” she finally asked. The wife extended her trembling arm and dropped a roll of Smarties into my bucket, where it landed with a reluctant thud among the Starbursts, the Reese’s Cups, the Tootsie Rolls and the Twizzlers.
When I say she never died, I mean she never died. Death knocked on the door, which was just a courtesy, as Death can pass through doors and walls, and stood at the foot of her bed, pointing with its bony finger. “Not now, you old cuss,” she told it, and Death skedaddled. That first time she was seventy-five. At eighty-three Death came back and she laughed in its face. “You again?” she asked. At ninety-one she spat at the ground by the hem of Death’s smoky cloak. At ninety-three she said, “We can keep playin’ this game if you want, buddy, but let’s face facts. It ain’t gonna happen.”
When Death came for me I asked her permission to go. She was a hundred twenty-eight. “No son of mine,” she said, nodding off. I nudged her shoulder. Wouldn’t you like to come with us? She opened a single eye and saw Death looming behind me. “I raised you right. Let me know how you like it.” I turned to Death and shrugged my shoulders. We left, Death and I, holding hands as we walked across the grassy lawn and into the clouds. I expected Death’s hand to feel cold and bony and sharp, but it was warm and sweaty and soft, like my mother’s.
July collapsed against the inside of her bedroom door, her rose-filled hand clutched to her breast, and sighed. The floral aroma filled her head with the smell of the love of its bearer, one Homer Freelord, with whom she had cavorted the afternoon away in the far recesses of the swamp, where the sun failed to penetrate the tree’s canopy and the rocks glowed green with slick algae. Love, she knew, consumed the spirit until breath fought for its purchase in the lungs and the blood coursed hotly through the veins. She hung the blossom inversely so that she might henceforth relish in its hardened presence, willing the thing to dry, but not so quickly so that she misplaced its sylvan bouquet.
June, however, took no token, chusing instead to scatter her flower petals about Homer in his bare recumbency, his thighs glowing as pearly as the swamp rocks emitted green. She recognized no honorable intent and, in her quietus, suggested nonesuch of him. For June, Homer signified little more than the might betwixt his limbs, the physicality, his male presence, his hands reaching for her–desire. She thusly found herself in trouble.
Naturally June said nothing, and her parents only sussed out the truth when Abbigail, her mother’s house girl, found only half the garments typically soiled when the twins struck their moon time. Luke chastised the girl for keeping track of such unpleasantries, but took his firstborn to Dr. Dollybird nonetheless.
“This gal here won’t be a heifer for long, Mr. Calendar!”
Luke, distrusting of the telephone, took to sealing inquiring letters as to the discretion of certain institutions for girls, sealing the documents with his signet in wax. As the weeks gamboled on the wait for a response proved too heavy and Luke took succor into his chamber pot. On her final day at home before leaving to convalesce at a distant monastery under a pseudonym, Luke demanded June name her violator, providing her with slate and chalk. The girl provoked him by writing in perfect penmanship a single word:
He offered her no opportunity to tell him the same, instead smashing the tablet against his knee and throwing the bits in the fire, where they did little more than glow white-hot from the blaze before cooling down again overnight once Abbigail doused the fire before bed. He failed at once to realize the dramatic gesture had done himself more harm than June, as a splinter had sheared off in the breaking and opened his knee, where it lodged itself quite satisfactorily in addition to bloodying his jodhpurs. Once healed the knee continued to shew a black speck just beneath the skin, and on humid days Luke could feel it jostle his patella, thinking it an early bout of rheumatism.
July continued to adore Homer, who, aware of his guilt against her twin, did nothing to absolve himself. With June away he saw no method or reason to confess or apologize, instead hoping that July would soon offer the same concessions as her older twin. The pair caused not a little gossip as they appeared in public together several times over, and Mary Anne found the prospect quite agreeable for her good daughter, so she began to pore over their books in order to propose a dowry. She worked out a few trades and signed her husband’s name to the deeds. He had long ago not only allowed, but encouraged this behavior, as he had not the stomach or the interest in its doings.
“Provided, Mother, we have money for cake, I daren’t take charge of the finances,” he told her, which served as her sole guidance for executing the Calendar estate.
As a matter of course July uncovered the truth of June’s trouble, and, heartbroken, vowed revenge–against whom she had not quite decided. She beseeched her father to take her to June’s monastery, but her father, in promoting the facade, reminded July that her sister had gone, upon the recommendation from Dr. Dollybird, to a yankee doctor in Pennsylvania to take in the city air as a means of stimulating her vocal chords, and that the treatment would take several months. July stormed off, and ripped the dried rose down from her wall, planning to batter Homer Freelord about the head with it until the thorns took sheath within his skull, but it was not to be, as the man seemed to vanish. A rumor spread that vagabonds absconded with him to Atlanta, where he was sold into the circus as a clown, but July knew that to be a falsehood, as she had instigated it to attain pity from her peers at tea.
Mary Anne found disappointment upon June’s arrival home when she found that the nuns had done nothing to trim her daughter’s waistline, which remained as rebelliously stout as ever. She did, however, take pleasure in her fine business transaction, and, not having to pay a dowry, took her surplus coins into town where she found consolation in the shape of velvet gloves, a whalebone corset and a peacock fascinator, for which she had no ready use.
While I’ve submitted only shorter pieces here, my primary work at the moment is on a novel. You get a glimpse into it with the historical shorts above (beginning with “Proud Parents, 1899”) that follow June and July Calendar in their childhood. These take a very different view into the world of my novel, which takes place when June and July are in their 70s, in the 1970s. It’s also fun to note that they are antagonists.
My novel is inspired by fairy tales and the Southern Gothic genre. Two young teenagers who have lived very sheltered lives find themselves in the care of two eccentric, elderly aunts after a series of family tragedies. Naturally, it does not go very well.