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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Grateful

Story by Lisa K. Buchanan (Read author interview) October 15, 2004

Thanksgiving is Oona’s favorite holiday, a celebration of gratitude, a day on which she can forgive the bearded bully in the jeep who flipped her the finger just now while she was on her way to the historically-restored home of her undivorced sister — not the volcanologist sister in Cameroon, but the entrepreneurial one whose chess-champ middle-schooler does not, like Oona’s own son, wear a tongue stud and singed brows; that is, the sister whose husband carves the turkey while Oona’s ex-disaster is off renewing himself at Machu Picchu with eleven other pranayama-breathers. Over pear tartelettes, Oona tells her sister she is genuinely pleased about their father’s recent remarriage, even though he no longer owns the cemetery plot next to their mother, even though the new wife is a celebrity-divorce junkie with a television in her bathroom and nine grandchildren needing orthodontia. Later, Oona drops her philanthrophobic adolescent at a friend’s house and drives to the local homeless shelter where her platter of roasted leftovers is received with a mere grunt. Home alone at the kitchen table, she spoons chocolate-liqueur sauce from jar to mouth, scraping metal against glass, wishing she could banish her negative energy, as she calls it — such narcissism, such envy — and see herself as a grateful person, one who finds beauty in a blueberry and wouldn’t ask a lover to shower before sex; one who steps aside for the person at the back of the grocery line, holding a lone quart of milk; one who isn’t afraid of cats or irritable with people for sneezing in the theater; one whom Oona herself could suffer.

About the Author

Lisa K. Buchanan’s fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Fiction honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination, a Writer’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center and finalist placements in both the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and the New Millennium Writings Competition. She lives in San Francisco and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing is from Mills College.

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.

This story appeared in Issue Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Six
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize 2021!

This competition is no longer accepting entries. The long- and shortlists have been published on the blog. The four winners of the competition will be featured in Issue 74 of SmokeLong Quarterly coming out near the end of December.