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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Checking for Ticks

Story by Nadia Born (Read author interview) April 12, 2021

Photograph by Stacy Guinn

Theo put his palms on her breasts as though he were swearing over a Bible. They did this at that spot by the riverbank, and often she would find dandelion fluff on her t-shirt like lint. Afterwards, he checked her for ticks. His younger sister had gotten sick the year before, her brain swelling up with Lyme disease, and since then he had become obsessive. He filled a jam jar with rubbing alcohol – its label ripped half-off and sticky – and kept it in the knot of a nearby tree. Together they sat up in the foxtails and she held the jar in her lap as he combed through her hair. Theo worked in his father’s carpentry shop and his fingertips were coarse as he scratched her scalp. Row by row, he searched for them. She stayed still, clutching the jar, the grasses brushing over her kneecaps as he traced her hairline with the tenderness of a finger drawn over a spinning globe, landing on its next resting place.

About the Author

Nadia Born is an emerging writer with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. Her work has been published in the minnesota review.

About the Artist

Stacy Guinn is an Illinois-based photographer whose work explores the transience of life and the traces of emotion we leave behind in places, clothing, and forgotten possessions.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-One
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A SmokeLong Summer

May 30-Aug 28!


From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.