The baby possum ate the mix of oatmeal, baby formula, and water.
He fit in her hand. She named him Wiener after his long tail. His
nose was pointy, a snout just like a T-Rex that she and her twin
brother used to read about as children. She checked out library
books, where she learned about the possum, read more about
fertility, reverse vasectomies, eggs.
While mowing the lawn, her man had found the baby possum attached
to his dead mother. Wiener was the size of a small mouse then.
She learned Wiener was nocturnal, so she put him in a box, cut
open a hole where she could put her hand in, where he'd crawl up and
she would grab him, taking him to the bed where she would feed him,
holding out the spoon, his snout opening and closing. He'd grow
fifty teeth. She hoped he would grow useful. When he was full, he
sniffed around, crawling up her arm and to her shoulder, sniffing
the ends of her hair. His hair was gray like hers. His were eyes
brown, protruding. His ears were triangular and rat-like, and his
feet spread out like an eagle, claws.
After a while, she grabbed a Q-tip and got it wet, then held him
over the toilet, rubbing his bottom. He'd squirm, then let out his
droppings. She told him he was a good boy, though he could have been
female. She put him in his box away from the new puppy, who didn't
have a name yet, but would probably eat our Wiener up if no one was
Days she worked, she took Wiener with her, feeding him during
breaks from clients, where she analyzed their dreams, helping them
find the root of their problems. She got calls from her man, who
worked across the lake, designing beach homes, hotel properties and
condos, and he'd leave messages on voicemail, saying, how's our boy?
Has he eaten? Is he still asleep? Is he pooping on his own yet?
Nights they took him sailing, putting plastic over his box when
it rained. When it was time for feeding, they got him out, and
everyone on their sailing team would coddle, saying how cute he was,
and oh, how he'd grown! Her guy put the baby on the base of his
thumb, petting him, acting proud-he had a grown son too, who sailed
with them, the strongest sailor, making them win their races.
Sometimes this son would look at Wiener and tell his father when
that creature gets older, he'll be lost.
She'd met the son first. "He's not going to make it," the son
once said about the possum.
They all stood around and drank soda and beer. The son had just
moved from San Diego and was staying with them until he found a
place of his own; his mother was dead. They all lived in a woods.
She checked for ovulation. All of them were hopeful. She
announced when she was ready. They stood on guard. They took turns,
but usually the father went first.
Kim Chinquee's work has appeared in journals and
anthologies including Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, Noon, Notre
Dame Review, New Orleans Review, Fiction, Fiction International,
Willow Springs, the Pushcart Prize XXXI: Best of the Small Presses,
and several other places. Her collection of fiction, Oh Baby,
will be released in March of 2008 by Ravenna Press.