Lucinda Kempe ~ Happy at Last

We shared DNA on a veg­etable pork roll in the Metropolitan muse­um café. I washed it down with two Prelief. He inquired what was up with the pills. I didn’t both­er to explain; he doesn’t have empa­thy for the sick. I’d seen a vio­let bump toe in a dis­play case of mum­mies. It seemed odd and hap­pen­stance. I imag­ined fan­ci­ful stories—perhaps the curate had for­got­ten it in his rush. Perhaps he hid it from his true love so his wife wouldn’t see or per­haps he hid it from his wife so his true love wouldn’t see. It was in full view—a pur­plish hue with a streak of red and the nail bed detached. One mum­my looked non­plussed and dis­en­chant­ed, agi­tat­ed by the inva­sion of this for­eign body. I felt for it deeply with its frozen eyes and twist­ed slit mouth. I slid a pill under a groove in the case. No one saw. As I sat revis­it­ing this I burped and Tutankhamun mate­ri­al­ized in his boy­ish Aten guise. He’d been wait­ing for me to arrive so I offered him anoth­er pill but he declined. The ear­li­er one had done the job. I went back to the dis­play case, dis­solved into ether and moved Francesca Woodman-like under the glass.

~

Lucinda Kempe’s work has been pub­lished or is forth­com­ing in The Southampton Review, Elm Leaves Journal, Jellyfish Review and The Summerset Review. The recip­i­ent of the Joseph Kelly Prize for cre­ative writ­ing in 2015, she’s an M.F.A. can­di­date in writ­ing and cre­ative lit­er­a­ture at Stony Brook University. Her nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion “Sam Soss Had Sex” was a semi-final­ist in the 2016 Under the Gum Tree’s inau­gur­al con­test, and her short fic­tion “Jeanne D’arc” (pub­lished in New World Writing) was long list­ed in Wigleaf’s Top 50 for 2018.