SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

Bred in Captivity

Story by Sonja Vitow (Read author interview) March 25, 2014

art by Rebecca Podos

I only know a few stories about the way things were before, even though I want to know everything. People don’t like to talk about it, except when they’re feeling nostalgic. I know about some things that used to be around, like the Super Bowl, and cable tee-vee, and zoos. My cousin David, who is a lot bigger than me, told me all about pandas. They lived in cages which he explained are like boxes with bars on one side so you CAN’T get out but you CAN see what you’re missing. They wouldn’t mate in captivity, which is when you’re a prisoner, and they had to watch panda pornO so they would know what to do and how to do it. I have never seen pornO but I know all about it because that’s the kind of thing that Jim gets nostalgic about all the time.

Jim lives in a cardboard box on the corner of the street. He could just live in 3035 Q Street like the rest of us but it wouldn’t be the same, he says, it wouldn’t be like before. His box doesn’t have any bars so he is not in captivity but he still has some problems mating.

Anyway, David said that he would go and visit pandas in the zoo, which is like jail for animals, even if they weren’t bad. Now they don’t live in the zoo anymore, because there is no zoo, but you don’t even have to leave the apartment to see them, since they are everywhere. Out of captivity, David told me, they didn’t have any problems mating. Someone planted a small bamboo forest that also didn’t have any problems mating, and now shoots come up higher than skyscrapers and you have to weave yourself through the streets if you want to go visiting. My dad tried to chop down all the bamboo on Q Street, but it came right back up even thicker, like he hadn’t even tried.

When I was little, the bamboo was not like it is now. We would watch it growing thicker and wider and unrulier and the grownups would say, We better do something about this, or we’ll be caged in soon. But nobody ever did anything. We have nowhere to go.

About the Author

Sonja Vitow is a founding editor of fledgling press The Knicknackery. Her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, NANO Fiction, Punchnel’s, Safety Pin Review, Meadowland Review, and WordsApart Magazine. Her short story, “Front Porch Crazy,” was a finalist in Glimmer Train‘s May 2013 Award for New Writers. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, where she won the American Academy of Poets Prize as well as first place in the 2013 Emerson College Graduate Poetry Awards.

About the Artist

Rebecca Podos is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College where she recently won the Graduate Program Award for Best Thesis. Her fiction has appeared in literary publications such as Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Bellows American Review, and Paper Darts. She is hard at work on her first novel.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Three

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Book Now!

Included in the price of SmokeLong Fitness:

The Community Workshop in small groups
One live Zoom webinar each month with killer workshop leaders (recorded for participants unable to attend).
One open-mic party each month (or other live Zoom events)
Discounts on intensive workshops
Discounts on senior editor feedback
Surprises (good ones)