SmokeLong Quarterly

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Thin Mints

Story by Francine Witte (Read author interview) November 30, 2020

Art by Amy Denio

Girl Scout at the door, a box of Thin Mints in her hand. She is maybe 12 or so. Bangs and peachy lip gloss. The purse against her hip is like the one my mother wore. Cobra skin and golden clasp.


My mother died eraser-like. One day there, then gone. After the funeral, my father built a mountain out of my mother’s things, her purses and shoes. The mountain was shaped like my mother and slept next to him at night.


“We owe you, right? Samoas, right?” I dig into my pocket. “Your father already paid me,” the Girl Scout says. She points to the purse, “he also gave me this.”


One night, after my mother died, I knocked and knocked at my father’s door. Something about a leaky pipe. When he didn’t answer, I creaked open the door. My father on the bed in a whiskey-sleep, his open hand on the purse.


“Your father home?” the Girl Scout asks, holding out the box of Thin Mints.
I brought him these.”


It’s a good thing I didn’t want the purse myself. Wouldn’t take it if you paid me.


When I was little, I thought the purse was magic. I had cut my finger and my mother said hush and pulled a blue band-aid from the purse’s belly. The scent of cherry cough drops and lilac blending as she patched my tiny cut. When my mother died, I shook and shook the purse. Emptied it upside down. Nothing but lint balls and loose change. Not a scrap of magic.


My father is standing behind me now. “You said you’d like to try these,” the Girl Scout says, offering my father the Thin Mints. “Oh, thank you,” he says, ripping open the box. “This is good,” he says. He holds up his hand, “wait here.”


“You’d think we’d sell more Samoas,” the Girl Scout is saying. “Everyone says they like coconut, but I think they mean in their hand lotion.” I tell her we like the Samoas.  “Well, really, it was my mother,” I say.


My father comes back with a pair of my mother’s shoes. Taken right out of the mountain. “I’m trying to clear out a few things,” he says, offering the shoes to the Girl Scout. “Maybe for your mama.” She takes the purse off of her shoulder. “Thanks,” she says, “my mom doesn’t wear heels, and also she says I have to give this back. Too expensive.”


Later that night, much later, I creak open the door to my father’s room. The mountain is gone, but everything is scattered all across the floor. Almost like someone took the room and shook it and shook it. My father, alone now, on the bed, staring upwards, as if hoping something might fall from the sky.

About the Author

Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy and The Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton) Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind, is available from Ad Hoc Fiction, her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This, from Blue Light Press. She lives in New York City.

About the Artist

Amy Denio is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist composer, singer and music producer based in Seattle, WA. She’s been commissioned to compose for dance, theater and film, and has received numerous grants and fellowships and collaborated with artists worldwide. She has performed at festivals, clubs, schools, prisons, social centers and ruins throughout Europe, North America and Asia.

This story appeared in Issue Sixty-Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty-Nine

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