Smoking With Maggie Shearon

Read the Story June 15, 2005

This scenario reminds me of Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” Whatta think? Hemmingway. Shearon. Well…

Hemmingway had some relationship issues didn’t he? I do admire that he married a older woman- that gives me some hope- but it is a shame really that none of that worked out for him—actually I hope things turn out a little better for me in the end.

I remember “Hills Like White Elephants.” I read this story years ago in college and I must have thought something like “don’t let him push you around, girl,” but then here I am years later pushing around this red cabbage and getting ready to make this absurd trade. Both stories are pretty bleak, but of course ending a pregnancy is fundamentally more intense than selling your flute to buy a cabbage.

Desire sizzles here—her desire for the cabbage, his desire for her to sell the flute. What role goes “desire” play in creating flash fiction?

I am really a novice writer. I have been writing about a year. This story is all about desire though and I think flash fiction is really suited to capturing that almost inarticulate moment of any kind of desire. In this story the husband wants control and power and the last word. And the protagonist well it is kind of sad that all she wants is that cabbage and her dignity and her freedom and her body back. It is interesting that the baby is off stage. No sense making him see this particular scene after all.

“An independently minded cabbage who was still perky.” What price must we pay in life for such a cabbage?

This story is all about price. That’s one of the fun things about its setting. I think in relationships, especially bad ones, we pay the price in the currency of time. The value added is the memory and the interpretation of memory through writing the stories down.

I also think that we learn in brilliant flashes of absurdity. The woman who went into that grocery store and the woman who came out are two different women. Maybe.

What influences have affected your recent writings?

All the usual suspects: Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, Nathaniel Hawthorne ,Virginia Woolf and Flannery O’Connor to name a few writers that have really influenced me. Growing up an Irish Catholic in Philadelphia also had a profound influence, not so evident in this story but in some of my other writing.

The other thing that really interests me is the relationship between story and memory. That’s what I am really trying to get at somehow.

Tell me all you can about your love of feral dogs.

I just love feral dogs. I could go on all day. I will never be a good enough writer to do them any kind of justice. I love feral dogs because they walk with their shoulders hunched and their heads down watching the ground for food and shadows and all kinds of shit to smell. These dogs are born convicts. Outcasts. Feral dogs are the offspring of fierce mothers and questionable fathers. I live with a feral dog named Mabel. Wolf dog mix. At night we listen to the coyotes in the fields around my house. Coyotes don’t really howl. Instead most nights they sound like insane Irish Lithuanian women singing the “ Ave Maria.” Mabel is my doppelganger, my nanny and quite possibly, the reincarnation of my mother.

About the Author:

Maggie Shearon lives in Colorado. She likes Irish whiskey, feral dogs and SmokeLong Quarterly.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.