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Story by Lucy Zhang (Read author interview) May 2, 2022

Art by Jessica Perner

When you’re hungry enough, you eat your baby; this is why you should always have three sacks of rice and five tubs of pork sung to get stuck between your teeth, so I am told as I stare down my chest, milk dribbling from a nipple like neglected ice cream, racing the baby for who eats whom first, and though I am sore, my arms heavy, my back like the IKEA ceramic plates that chipped when I placed them on the glass microwave tray, I think instead of the class hamster who birthed a litter and snacked on her young like pistachios, cracked and full of meat, despite us providing a bowl full of pellets and sunflower seeds which I had snuck from the snack cabinet and peeled open with my teeth, imagining myself a savior of the children, though at the time, I had not known I could starve my own by controlling my milk supply like a water clock, permitting one drop at a time into a cup else letting them wash down the drain until my skin dried, after which I eye the rice, wondering if I can eat the grains raw, skip the cooking time and the steam burning my knuckles, efficiently implement a fuel conversion algorithm to synthesize milk so the baby stops taking from my blood and bones, soothes my darting eyes from fridge to cabinet to packs of Fu Ling Bing scattered on the table, counting the seconds until we’re more empty than full.

About the Author

Lucy Zhang writes, codes and watches anime. Her work has appeared in New Orleans Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Chestnut Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere, and was selected for Best Microfiction 2021 and Best Small Fictions 2021. She is losing sleep over a novel. Find her on Twitter @Dango_Ramen.

About the Artist

Formerly known as Jessica Ward, Jessica Perner is an American artist who works primarily in graphite to create powerful drawings that possess a strong sociological voice. She attended Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art – Drawing with a minor in Illustration. She continued to study at Kendall for a Master’s in Fine Art – Drawing until moving to Los Angeles, California instead to break into the art world. There she had her first gallery show in 2008, and has been exhibiting her work in galleries internationally since. Jessica currently resides in Marz, Austria with her husband where she co-hosts the Paintingloft Podcast and promotes art via Red Siren Art News.

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

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