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Story by Rebecca Podos (Read author interview) September 24, 2013

Art by Rebecca Podos

Our dad said it was squirrels, possibly birds—that the slow-grinding sound my sister and I noticed one night, kneeling together in cotton Barbie gowns in the moonlit corner of our room, ears pressed against the plaster, was not the fluttering around of ghosts or kid-eating vampires, only the panicked beating of imprisoned wings, but when the Pest Man came he toweled his face on his t-shirt and said You got yellowjackets, showed us the spot where a nest hung, the size of a lettuce head, rotten but budding behind our pink wallpaper, then laughed A week more, nasty guys would of chewed clean through, so the next day he came back and knocked a hole and sprayed inside, which we, soaked from running through our lawn sprinkler in matching Junior Miss bikinis, went indoors to watch, arms linked at the hot crooks of each other’s elbows, till my sister broke off and bravely stepped through the doorway, left me behind in the shadows of the hall, ready to run from bugs, as the Pest Man turned and asked my sister if she wanted to see the innards of a house, and put a surgical mask on her and lifted her to see into the hole, his big hands around her belly, his body so close behind her a yellowjacket couldn’t slip between, lifting her still when I turned back down the hallway and went outside, and always she and I would know but not speak of what was done and what wasn’t, and remember when Dad asked the Pest Man, outraged, Can that happen? Can bugs eat through walls? and the Pest Man smiled under the hot discus of an August sun, winked at me and said Buddy, all it takes is teeth and time.

About the Author

Rebecca Podos is a graduate of the MFA Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College where she recently won the Graduate Program Award for Best Thesis. Her fiction has appeared in literary publications such as Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Bellows American Review, and Paper Darts. She is hard at work on her first novel.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-One

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