There is perhaps no better way to start off Short Story Month than with a piece by Masters Review author, Jennifer Dupree. Jennifer’s work first appeared in The Masters Review Volume II judged by AM Homes, when we published “Dancing at The Zoo,” a story about a woman dealing with the lion living in her belly. Here we are privy to another of Dupree’s wonderful pieces, this time about a young woman struggling to deal with motherhood and a relationship where her boyfriend is somewhat adoring of his ex-wife. It’s a lovely piece, and is the perfect way to begin a month of great writing.
Linda Peterson Sounds Like A Reasonable Name
By Jennifer Dupree
We are on the way home from a Saturday afternoon family Halloween party and I am wearing my sexy witch costume, which is basically a black leotard, tights, and a lot of eye makeup. I ditched the hat in the backseat with the girls. The leotard is riding up in both the front and the back and Lily, dressed as a black cat, has her face in my hat. Brit is fixing her pompadour. Ricky is singing some made-up Halloween song that is making Lily and Brit laugh.
Lily is four, Brit is eleven. They have spent the day eating candy corn, candy apples, mini Snickers bars, and pumpkin-flavored cupcakes at a party given by a school friend of Brit’s. “I think the invitation was for you and Connie,” I say to Ricky.
“Didn’t you have a good time?” He smiles, wets his finger, tamps down his eyebrows.
I take his hand, rub the wet off against my hip. “Except for everyone asking about Connie.”
He glances in the backseat. It’s been eleven months and supposedly it was as friendly a split as divorces go but Brit’s still sensitive about it. Or so Ricky says.
“I should call her,” he says. “I told her we’d be home around four-thirty.”
It is five o’clock and just starting to get dark. I tap the digital clock. “Does she start calling hospitals when you’re five minutes late?”
Ricky digs his cell phone out of the pocket of his black jeans, which, when he put on this afternoon, I told him I didn’t even know people made anymore. He looked at me with his fallen-in little-boy face and said he thought they’d go with his vampire costume. I kissed him, said he looked fine, maybe a little eighties. I unzipped his zipper and slid my hand into the opening but he pulled away, said the kids were downstairs, waiting.
He hands me his cell phone. “Can you call and let her know we’re on the way?”
I let the cell phone dangle in his palm, midair. I look in the back seat and Brit has her hand on her stomach and her eyes closed.
“Are you feeling all right, sweetie?” I ask, all maternal. I glance at Ricky to see if he notices but he’s back to watching the road.
Lily says, “Are we still having pizza for dinner?”
“After we drop Brit off.”
“Can’t she spend the night with us?”
Brit rolls her head side to side and moans.
“Maybe we should get her some ginger ale,” I say to Ricky. Connie is the kind to be quick to blame me for her kid pigging out and then throwing up all night. “There’s a Seven-Eleven up the street.”
“She’s fine,” Ricky says. He has put the phone between his legs. “Connie practically has a pharmacy at the house.”
“She’s amazing,” I say.
Read the rest of the story, here.