Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of
Volume 15, Number 2
Copyright © 2020
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to
in the Apple Valley
Review are retained by
the individual authors
Fiction by Epiphany Ferrell
The picnic basket is heavy. My darling wife said she was adding
a tangerine for each of us but I peeked and I know she slipped in a
claw hammer and the blade from a circular saw as well. I don’t let her
know that I know.
She has a sickness, my wife. She’s paranoid. The doctors say
it’s a symptom. She thinks I’m trying to kill her, so she takes the
opportunity, at least once a week, to try to outmaneuver me and kill me
first. The doctors would like her to live at St. Donata where she can
have care. That’s not necessary, I tell them. She doesn’t want to kill
me, not really. She gets confused, that’s all.
Last week it was a nail gun. I hadn’t seen it, she held it down by
her side, hidden by the 1950s-style skirt she favors. If I hadn’t moved
just when I did, looking down to avoid stepping on her cat, she might
have gotten me worse than she did. She cried when she saw it was
only my bicep, not my heart. “It’s ok, darling, no real harm done,” I
soothed her. Confusion can be dangerous, the doctors say, but she’s
my wife. I know her. Even now.
I’ll have to be careful today, at least when she is close enough to
strike. I’ve brought a kite, hoping she remembers. We met on the kite
hill when we were both in junior high. She was new to town and didn’t
know about the kite mania. I let her fly mine, a hawk that ran out higher
than the other kites that day. She came back the next Saturday with a
Our kite today is an octopus. It’ll be tricky to make airborne but
once it’s up, it’ll be beautiful, undulating against the ocean of sky. I
urge my wife to run with it. Neither of us is fast anymore. I take over,
promising to give it back as soon as it finds a current. I just have the
kite in the air when she throws the hammer at me. I hadn’t considered
she might throw it. It’s not a good throw—it misses me and I pretend
I don’t see it though I nearly trip over it as I guide the octopus in a zig-
“He’s up,” I tell my wife, handing her the string. She swipes at me
with the saw blade, tangling the string around the teeth until the string
frays and the octopus falters. “Never mind,” I tell her as she watches
the octopus dive to the horizon, the saw blade forgotten.
“We need to feed the parking meter,” she says to me, her eyes
wide with fear. “We have to go!”
She hurries up the path, leaving me the picnic basket, now much
lighter emptied of its weapons. She disappears ahead of me, and I walk
cautiously after her.
Epiphany Ferrell lives perilously close to the Shawnee Hills Wine
Trail in Southern Illinois. Her stories have appeared in Best
Microfiction 2020, Pulp Literature, Third Point Press, New Flash
Fiction Review, and elsewhere.
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