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 Morgan Cross
How do we lose our heads? I don’t know. We sit out on the back
porch and smoke a couple fatties. That’s what Dad calls them anyway.
Fatties. He calls anything he can call a fatty a fatty. He calls the dog a
fatty, Mom a fatty, the women who slug up the road from the beach
sweating from all their crevices fatties, he calls the logs crammed in the
fireplace fatties, he calls the commercial airplanes in the sky fatties, he
calls the cargo vans on the highway fatties, he calls the neighbour’s
decrepit pick-up truck a fatty, the neighbour’s son too, he started trying
to call me a fatty when I dropped out of high school and put on a roll
around the midsection but then I called him a fatty when he went for a
second scone out of the oven one morning and he nipped that in the bud.
Nip that in the bud. That’s what he said when I started smoking weed.
Nip that in the bud, he said, and I said, Why should I? and he said he
didn’t actually care whether I did or didn’t, he’d only said it for the word
bud, for the sake of saying it. It was only a thing to say to sound good.
We sit out on the back porch and try to think of things to say to
sound good. I don’t know what. We’ve lost our heads. We’ve beaten
and neglected our heads and now even they have left us for better people.
I say that pigeons are just doves, that doves are just pigeons, that all the
hatred and love cancels out in the end. He says, What are you on about,
fatty? I take a fat drag. I say, Can I poach a roach? He says, Nobody
in their right mind would want to poach a roach. I say, It was only a
thing to say to sound good. He says, Smart Aleck. I say, I wish you’d
named me that for real. Anything but what you named me. He says,
What’s your beef with Gus? Gus is a name for a man who knows how
to tug a fatty without coughing. I say, Gus is a name for a toolbox. I
say, Gus is a name for a man who tills fields and nurses piss-beer and
raises bulky children, who spends his life stockpiling, who thinks that
everything can be done sternly, even marriage. Dad says, Amen to that.
We take a look at the pond in the backyard and we are both on the same
thought: that it’s deep enough to end it, someday, if we ever make up our
minds. There’s comfort in that. We will die in the backyard. We will die
with the mosquito larvae and tadpoles, the cattails and leaf rot from the
previous fall. We will die by sleeping pill, guts up, drifting from the sun,
surface of water closing over our eyes like a wound. We will go white
and chalky. Whatever wants to come out will come out. But first we will
put on our best shirts and comb back our hair. We will shave our necks.
We will spend all the fatties and leave the roaches in the lawn. We will
die vainly, in vain. It’s just a thing to say to sound good.
Morgan Cross is an animal care worker living and writing in Victoria,
British Columbia, Canada. Her fiction has appeared in The Malahat
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