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by Thad DeVassie

A cover is both the teaser, a salacious or magnetic hook, and fierce protector of contents. It is judged despite friendly advice you’ve long been receiving.

A cover up is to hide all that is unflattering. It is a caretaker’s sweet gesture reserved for children, and sleeping lovers before they eventually leave.

Cover crops do what’s necessary on barren land, preventing run-off when the shit doesn’t stick. It is not a metaphor meant for your mother’s troubled sister.

When spoken, cover for me can suggest lack of ambition or follow-through; whispered with masculine urgency puts others on notice to have your back regardless of their compliance.

Ketchup covered all when you didn’t know better, a thick red paste pool of tomato and corn syrup serving as a mask, master concealer to the culinary challenged and underdeveloped palates.

Over time, the verb to cover was replaced by nouns lid and top, simpleton forms declaring the arrival and intersection of modern domestic preservation with cheap material commerce.

To pay it is the winnowing way of saying what lies beyond the entrance is not ordinary company; otherwise it is admission.

To take it implies what’s incoming, necessary warnings for military maneuvers and mixed family functions. It is shorthand for the more insistent get the hell out of here.

You prefer all the covers, in the plural as in sheets, while hoarding and hiding under cover of the night with a penchant for spoons and fetal positions.

But know this: all concealment is futile. Given time or a pinch of juicy gossip and the world will spy you uncovered, deny you and all of your coverings. In the end all covers are blown.

Thad DeVassie’s work has appeared in numerous journals including New York Quarterly, West Branch, Sentence, NANO Fiction, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Unbroken, PANK, and Lunate. His chapbook, This Side of Utopia, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. A lifelong Ohioan, he writes from the outskirts of Columbus.