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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Home Economics

Story by Gail Louise Siegel (Read author interview) June 26, 2009

art by Zoe Kaufman

Marguerite economizes. Twists open tiny soaps and shampoos collected over a lifetime. Cheap brands from no-tell motels. Occitane de Paris from the Burnham in Chicago. Lemony bath foam from Italy. Little creams and lotions from hospitals—at her age, everything needs lubricating, inside and out. There are slender scissors from a broken foot, miniature powders from a heart attack.

She buys bar soap, not body wash. Dial. Remembers how sexy a man smells, hot from a shower, permeated with Dialhomey as fresh bread.

Takes the train instead of paying to park. Brings a cheese sandwich for lunch. Drinks tap water, not pop. Brews coffee in the office kitchen. Cancels the paper and reads it on line.

She breaks open the free toothbrush from the dentist. Buys generic aspirin. Finds it’s cheaper to drink well at home than poor in a bar.

Thinks frugal deeds will ward off a pink slip. Thinks wrong. The night after she’s laid off, she feeds the dog the last kibble, taps out the dreck at the bottom of the bag.

At the church fleamarket, she buys Ralph Lauren job hunt pants. With a belt, on tiptoe, they almost fit.

She shrinks the pants in the dryer. Rummages her closet for a freebie soap.

Thinks, where to tonight? She lifts a vial to her nose. Inhales the Amalfi Coast. Enters steamy water. Cranks the flow up to pummel.

About the Author

Gail Louise Siegel’s work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, FRiGG, Post Road, Juked and elsewhere. She lives just barely outside of Chicago.

About the Artist

Zoe Kaufman’s work can be found online at http://www.zoekaufman.com.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Five
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A SmokeLong Summer 2023!

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From June 5 to August 27 2023, SmokeLong is going to host the superworkshop, A SmokeLong Summer for the second year. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our asynchronous 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 is much more.