“Monica! Lunch!”

I ran up the hill to the house with my empty bucket, not looking back. I didn’t want to see a silver arm rise from the pond. My mother was outside watering the tomatoes. Seeing my muddy feet, she screamed.

“You went near the water?” She slapped at me. “You know what can happen!” She grabbed my wrist and pulled me onto the rubber doormat, spraying my feet to clean them.

“It was just the edge; it’s muddy! I didn’t go too close; I swear, mama!”

“Dry your feet and go upstairs — I made you a tuna…

“Montana don’t own it.” Ray dragged his battered straw hat off his sparsely haired head and scratched around in the thin strands.

“Own what? And don’t scratch your damn head in here!” Lucille smacked a plate of pie down on the counter next to the cup of black coffee she had served him before his hat came off.

“Sorry,” Ray muttered. “My head itches!” Lucille pursed her lips and sighed through her nose.

“Well, washing it would be a good start. Maybe with some of that dandruff shampoo… I forget what it’s called.” She wiped invisible crumbs from the counter…

“You ate all the pizza?” My father’s face creased in on itself.

“There were only two slices left. Order another one.” He looked hurt but made no move towards the phone.

“Okay, fine. I’ll order another one and you can have it fresh and hot.” He brightened instantly at the thought of fresh pizza, pulling his phone out of his pocket to capture a selfie of himself in happy mode. When I had asked about it, he told me that he hadn’t smiled much in prison and that he liked to catch the smiles to assure himself that he could…

A Whole Foods Shopper

I peered into the bathroom mirror and touched a rough and peeling cheek. I could see baby pink skin underneath. Another four days of hiding inside and I would emerge, reborn, as my best self. That’s what the brochure said next to a picture of a butterfly breaking out of a cocoon. A new me for $250.00. I’d saved for nearly a year, but it would be worth it. I walked the ten steps back into the living room. I didn’t even have to think before sticking Pretty Woman into the VCR. It was my favorite…

My father in law, Jamie, wasn’t allowed in the Ship & Shape anymore, even though he had been legally absolved of shooting me. A sympathetic judge had deemed my getting shot an “accidental” discharge of a firearm. I looked outside as I wiped down tables left-handed. No Jamie in sight. Even after a couple of months, the rod, screws, and plate that gave me a functional elbow often made my right arm throb, the pain shooting up through my shoulder and curling around my neck like a snake in heat. I rolled my neck to ease the tension.

The Ship…

Claudia Brooke

Make, write, paint, play music, read, eat, sleep, repeat.

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