Kathy Fish

Strings

The aunt and uncle’s farm, ear­ly spring, the earth smell of unsown fields, and Sunday lunch. My uncle sprawled in the reclin­er, his work boots raised like an affront. Burning Camel stuck to his low­er lip. Snoring. The aunts and my moth­er drink­ing cof­fee, my aunt whis­pers about strange things com­ing out of her when she goes to the bath­room. My moth­er spies us on the floor pre­tend­ing to play crazy eights. She indi­cates with her cig­a­ret­te the back door. All our lives we’ve been fol­low­ing that lit­tle point of fire. We are given kites to assem­ble. Rickety-ass kites. Balsa wood and paper. Balls and balls of string. We tromp down the path between the trees. The field opens up to us like some­thing born. My old­er broth­er Bill and his girl­friend shy in the face of their molten horni­ness. They drop their kites and head for the barn. Bits of col­ored paper we tear halfway, strad­dle them on the strings, watch them race like chil­dren. My younger broth­er inno­vates with head­li­nes he tears from the Press-Citizen: Local Boy Bowls 7–10 Split! Up, up it goes. The rogue German Shepherd is try­ing to bite every­one. Bit cous­in Nancy in the face last mon­th. Couple Wed 75 Years Die Fifteen Minutes Apart. Heavenward. O glo­ri­ous day! The kites bob and weave, boxed by the wind. The German Shepherd run­ning in cir­cles. Planets Collide! Bill comes hop­ping out of the barn scream­ing. His knee wide open, dan­gling, meat falling off the bone (the way my aunt describes slow cooked pork ribs). The German Shepherd, insane over the blood. They’d been jump­ing from the hayloft, Bill and the girl­friend, his knee sliced by some­thing under the straw. Some farm imple­ment lying in wait, some men­ac­ing blade. Space Aliens Take Over House of Representatives! To the clouds! Bill, howl­ing. Blood just every­where. His knee inside the German Shepherd’s jaws. Nobody sees Uncle John until he’s there, tak­ing aim. A blast. Bill on the ground alive and bleed­ing. The German Shepherd, dead. Little broth­er still tear­ing up the news­pa­per. Rickety Kites Survive Nuclear Blast! The kites, unteth­ered, rise fur­ther, dis­ap­pear. Our faces upturned like the best kind of prayer.

Kathy Fish’s sto­ries have been pub­lished in Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Guernica, Slice, and else­where. Her work is forth­com­ing in The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). She is the author of two short fic­tion col­lec­tions, Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012) and Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011).