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Conversion by Gasoline

Story by Marsha McSpadden (Read author interview) March 27, 2012

art by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Daddy’d cracked.

The kids at school pointed and whispered. Said he’d made orphans overseas. Watching people explode had turned him inside out.

Quiet as a wish, he carved up our kitchen table. Hacked it into figurines. Splintered bodies with round mouths. No eyes.

Afterward, we took nearly silent suppers squatting over linoleum, corners curling. The dolls were heaped in the corner not watching. I asked if he shot children over there. Ones who looked like me.

Hush that, mama said, spooning beans onto plates. I wondered if they brought to mind shrapnel. Pieces of people.

Once, while Mama bought time at Winn-Dixie, daddy slogged whiskey down his throat. Finally, unstrangled. I sat cross-legged, twitching to be filled with secrets.

His voice slick with memory: Monks ablaze. Flame-licked. Calm as nectarines.

He capped himself but not the bottle.

Still, my very own blooming postcard. Finally delivered. I turned it round and round in my mind until the edges softened.

Nights I curled by the fire. In yellow footy pajammies. Waiting to spark.

About the Author

Marsha McSpadden is an instructor at the University of Alabama. Her work has appeared in the Missouri Review, Shenandoah (Bevel Summers Prize), subTerrain, and Quiddity, among others.

About the Artist

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an internationally award winning artist of over fifty awards. She was the CIWEM Young Environmental Photographer of The Year in 2013. Eleanor’s photography has been published in British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Her work has been displayed around the world consistently for six years since the age of thirteen. Last year she did the anthology cover for the incredibly popular Austin International Poetry Festival. She is also featured in Schiffer’s “Contemporary Wildlife Art” published last spring.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Five
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