Sunday roast–lamb, I think–sizzling in the oven. I skip into the kitchen, looking for tidbits. Dad and Mum are fighting.
“I’ve told you and told you,” Dad says. “You won’t listen, will you?”
I stick a finger into the saucepan. Mum, silent as usual during Dad’s tirades, slaps my hand with a wooden spoon.
“Any time you leave the help alone in the shop, they steal cigarettes. Every time I do a bloody stock take, it’s the same thing. We’re down two hundred Marlboro. Where did they go? I’d like to know!”
I lick the gravy off the back of my hand. Mum bends over to get something from the cupboard.
“You can’t trust anybody,” Dad says.
In the cupboard, behind the gravy granules, I catch a glimpse of something. It’s a carton of two hundred Marlboro.
Published in the U. of Machias at Maine Ultra-Short Competition ’05
(Pastiche of ‘Green’ by Virginia Woolf)
The red, chapped skin cracks. A rivulet of blood slides down over the whorls of lines, and settles in a single, red bead. All day long gleaming pink lesions split and shine, tributaries twist and trace maps of criss-cross waterfalls. The sharp blades of razors, reflecting red, flicker and flame, flip-flap, stinging loud in the afternoon sun. But the thickening blood shimmers a necklace on unbroken, brown skin, one shoulder lifts in disdain, an eyebrow goes with it; the sudden punch jerks her chin up, flips her back, she lies there, watches the red sky, until stars come out, unbroken. Evening comes, and a field grows from seed, flowers puff up into glossy red blooms that wave and sigh, the ruffled surface of a blood-red ocean. No ships come, no-one to save her, waves curdle beneath the gaping sky. It’s night. The rivulets leak, spill beads of white. The red’s out.
Published in Equinox #19
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tessa Smith McGovern is an award-winning writer who has taught writing for 22 years and, for the last ten years, at the Writing Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, NY. Her current class there, ‘How to Link Your Short Stories and Memoirs into a Collection’, begins on Wednesday Feb 3, 2021.
Tessa’s award-winning linked short story collection, LONDON ROAD: LINKED STORIES, received a ‘Featured’ review from Kirkus, is an Amazon best-seller, and a gold medal winner in the 2012 eLit Awards. Her non-fiction book, COCKTAILS FOR BOOK LOVERS (Sourcebooks), is also an Amazon best-seller.
Her many publication credits include the Connecticut Review and Equinox, a UK poetry journal archived by the English Arts Council at the Southbank Centre, London. She’s currently writing a contemporary fantasy novel inspired by British mythology and pursuing her MFA in Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
She is founder and editor of eChook Digital Publishing. eChook won a silver medal in the 2012 eLit Awards and its stories have been read by thousands of readers in 100+ countries.
Tessa is also host, writer and producer of BookGirlTV (BGTV), an award-winning digital channel that promotes books and reading. BGTV has 6 million+ minutes viewed on YouTube and 10,000+ likes on Facebook.
BookGirlTV’s YouTube channel features tips for writers and interviews with popular authors such as Dani Shapiro, Jane Green and Pulitzer prize-winner Anna Quindlen.
Tessa was born in England, moved to the United States in 1993, and published her first short story in 1996. She’s currently working on a YA urban fantasy novel with talking animals that’s inspired by British folklore. She lives in CT with her family, a black lab, and a black and white Maine Coon who actually can talk.
For more information, please email info @ tessasmithmcgovern.com