Jim Mentink ~ The Ballad

Jean was one of those women who believed in angels; wore crys­tals around her neck and cut her hair like Enya.

She was born in the south but bore no accent; lived her life in New England, cot­tages near coves and coast­lines.

Two mar­riages, nei­ther of them good; dis­cov­ered she pre­ferred the com­pa­ny of women but nev­er fell in love.

Jean often thought of her­self as a poet; writ­ing in jour­nals, lis­ten­ing to NPR, and watch­ing loons on the water as she thought of abun­dant ways to describe them.

She almost always had a half-gal­lon of cook­ies n’ cream ice cream in her freez­er; ate organ­ic veg­eta­bles and brewed her own kom­bucha, Gala apple being her favorite fla­vor.

On Thursdays, Jean would vol­un­teer at the food pantry; Mondays and Fridays she count­ed song­birds for three hours in the morn­ing for the Avian Society.

Jean was diag­nosed with dia­betes at age thir­ty-eight; she walked two miles every day and ate a lot of sweet pep­pers.

Her gar­den box­es on the south side of her house grew cab­bages, car­rots, and cher­ry toma­toes; impa­tiens and snap­drag­ons dec­o­rat­ed the front of her house, hol­lies on the west side.

She lost her first tooth while eat­ing an oat­meal cook­ie; lost her vir­gin­i­ty on her wed­ding night, lost her only child dur­ing her sec­ond mar­riage.

Jean was one of those women who wore a dress once a year; most days she wore but­ton down Oxfords and leather shoes.

She lost her moth­er to liv­er dis­ease after being destroyed by alco­hol; Jean’s broth­er was in prison, her sis­ter joined a con­vent when she was twen­ty.

Her pet peeve was when peo­ple laugh at inap­pro­pri­ate times; she hates peo­ple who talk with their car win­dows down and root beer floats.

Jean is nobody’s best friend, always an acquain­tance; she lives alone, lives alone, lives alone.

~

Jim Mentink’s pub­li­ca­tion his­to­ry includes short fic­tion with Bending Genres, Pangyrus Literary Magazine, and forth­com­ing in the anthol­o­gy, Dirigo Dreams. He was also a run­ner-up in the Eliza So ‘Finish Your Book’ fel­low­ship and named an Honorable Mention in the Literary Taxidermy Short Story Contest. Additionally, he had the priv­i­lege of being invit­ed to the Writers in Paradise con­fer­ence in 2019, and was grant­ed art res­i­den­cies with Hewnoaks (2015) and Wildacres (2019)–all on the mer­it of his fic­tion. He is a cur­rent mem­ber of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.