by Meg Tuite
No one in Edwina’s neighborhood is an only child, especially on their block, so Edwina pretends she has another sibling. “Her name is Gertie. She writes to me every week.”
“Where is she?” asks the kid Edwina babysits, Louise.
“She was sent away to a school in Kazakhstan for pregnant girls. She’s going to have twins. They need more kids in Kazakhstan, so she’s giving them to charity.”
“Where’s Kaziktown?” asks Louise.
“In Arkansas. It’s pretty far away. She’ll be back sometime.”
“Can I see the letters?”
“She’s a left-hander. You wouldn’t be able to read them.”
Louise’s older brothers call Louise a witless nitwit. One brother is sixteen and has three rolls on the back of his neck. When Edwina passes his bedroom he jumps out at her, snaps her head against the wall and lathers his tongue around the back of her tonsils, gropes at a breast for as long as it would take a rescue team to find a kid buried in rubble. He tastes like the stench of dirty socks and stale cigarettes. She gets why parents have separate rooms.
The parents are cheap so Edwina steals random items, eats whatever looks good and drinks through their liquor cabinet. Edwina’s stolen a blue floppy dildo the size of a unicorn’s horn, a concertina, three satin negligees, and a porno DVD. She put a Bible under the dad’s mattress in exchange for his porno. He’s an asshole who belts the shit out of his jumpy kids, and wears loafers that look like the hooves of a horse.
She mixes up keys in the hallway that parade along little brass hooks by the front door. A pair of Edwina’s mom’s stilettos, long forgotten, are placed in the back of the dad’s closet. It’s all just a matter of moving objects. Somebody needs to keep families from believing in stability and Edwina takes that problem as seriously as she does her job.
Meg Tuite is author of a novel-in-stories, Domestic Apparition, a short story collection, Bound By Blue, and won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, as well as five chapbooks of short fiction, flash, and poetic prose. She teaches at Santa Fe Community College, is a senior editor at Connotation Press and (b)OINK lit zine, and editor of eight anthologies. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines, over 15 anthologies, nominated nine times for the Pushcart Prize, five-time Glimmer Train finalist, placed 3rd in the Bristol Prize, and Gertrude Stein award finalist. Her blog: megtuite.com.