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SmokeLong Quarterly

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He Called Me Honeybunch

Story by Karen Sherk Chio (Read author interview) November 23, 2015

Art by Ashley Inguanta

He called me Honeybunch and I called him Sweetheart. He came over when I totaled my Nana’s car. I wrote him a poem on sage-scented paper for the anniversary of his brother’s death, and gave it to him before a pink sunrise.

He held me close as our hearts pounded in shock over the blue plus sign. I cradled his head when the doctor told us there was no heartbeat, his tears stringing down my elbows. He was gentle with me when I was sad at our wedding. I loved our two-day honeymoon because I loved him.

He tolerated my melancholy when it drew into days, weeks, months. I was secretly terrified by our new house. He was the one who threw out the condoms. I tried not to be morning-sick in his car. He pretended restlessness helped him care for a newborn more easily. I pretended I loved them both equally.

He rolled over when I reached out in the night. I liked that we seemed happy in front of our child. He bought weights and running shoes. I wrote more poems, aching for sleep. He held our daughter, rippled arms curving like feathers. I held our daughter, thinking of the pain in my back.

He told me he was finitely patient. I told him I felt flawlessly alone.

He said he saw six shooting stars when I awoke to his gazing out the window. I stared until my eyes crossed at the night sky: a painted bowl breaking at dawn, shattering quietly around us.

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Notes from Guest Reader Tara Lynn Masih

This is how to take a story that has been told many times before and make it new, with a fresh voice and keen eye for unique details. The writer distills many months into a few short paragraphs, and each heavy, meaningful sentence pounds away at the reader like a primitive chant, leading us to a final, mournful note that resonates.

About the Author

Karen Sherk Chio holds degrees in French, Spanish, and Public Health. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and young children.

About the Artist

Ashley Inguanta is a writer, art photographer, installation artist, and holistic educator. Her work has most recently appeared in Atticus Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, and the anthology The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest chapbook of poems, The Island, The Mountain, & The Nightblooming Field honors a human connection with the natural world.

This story appeared in Issue Fifty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty
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