Happy birthday, Kim Chinquee! Celebrate by reading these Chinquee fictions we published in 2019! “Foxy” was subsequently published in Chinquee’s Wetsuit. And then read “I Took One of Her Legs” and “Special Operations,” which were also subsequently published in Wetsuit.
“I guess we’re not having any babies,” I say to my boyfriend. He’s driving my Mercedes. His left arm’s in a sling.
I reposition myself, pull the seatbelt so it isn’t binding.
He says, “We can always buy one.”
The traffic is thick; a limo pulls beside us. I imagine a queen. A wedding. Being someone’s bride once. My ex driving me home from the hospital, with our newborn. It was hot, in Mississippi. My baby was Cesarean. I was practically a teen then.
My boyfriend says, “There are all kinds. Black and white and brown and red. We might have some choices.”
He leans forward so his slinged hand can reach the knob so he can turn the signal.
He says, “We missed you. The dogs went nuts last night. I think they saw some foxes.”
“Foxy,” I say. I imagine the hammock in the yard, the boxes in the house, still unpacked, ones with games like Clue and Hangman. Pictures of my son. Our bikes. His accident. Finding him last week in shock, his shoulder out of socket. His bike twisted. We live in the woods and he was stuck there.
My surgery was set for nine a.m. It had nothing to do with his accident. We have four dogs between us. Once, years ago, before we broke up and got back together, I thought that I was pregnant.
The surgery was complicated. No one came to see me. People have to work. Some things are important.
My son called. I imagined him inside my womb. Growing. Waking. Gone. He’s twenty-eight. He’s serving in the army.
I bled a lot. I had low respirations. I was a hard case. My uterus was taken. I didn’t know the difference until my doctor told me.
Last week, in urgent care, my boyfriend sat on the table, shirtless, letting the assistant touch him. She moved his arms. I hated seeing him hurt like that. This is not like us. We are active. We are athletes. We met running. I had to help him dress. I had to help him shower.
Today, the nurse had to wheelchair me down to the car when he came to get me.
He veers onto an exit. There’s a bump in the road.
Wake to the Rooster
You’re in base housing, with its cinder block walls. Like another base when you were military, too, where you lived with your then-husband, when your son wasn’t even born yet.
Now your son twenty-eight. He lives on this lovely Hawaiian base of his own, with candlenut and mangrove trees, ones where soldiers, like your son, march with their backs full of rucksacks. They drive around in Humvees carrying rifles.
It’s illegal to kill chickens in Hawaii.
In certain parts of this state, tourists pay a lot of money just to wear leis on their necks.
Teach Me Something I Don’t Already Know
The gummy bear originated in Germany. In 1920. Made up of gelatin and sugar.
The firefly is a family of insects. The Lampyridae, in the beetle order Coleoptera. “They are winged soft-bodied beetles, commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey.” According to Wikipedia.
Wikipedia’s definition of a tail: “the section at the rear end of certain kinds of animals’ bodies; in general, the term refers to a distinct, flexible appendage to the torso.”
I suppose many of us know that.
Once, after drinking lots of draft, a man I know (aka—my boyfriend) got caught in more than a misdemeanor, stealing someone’s candy. He ended up in jail with a face full of stitches.
Misdemeanor: “Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty, or summary offenses) and regulatory offenses.”
I eat two gummy vitamins in the morning. Slap the bugs. I return to bed, where I see the dogs’ back ends as they romp and bark. I see my boyfriend’s face, clean and all fixed up back into angles.
I make him morning oatmeal, then go back to sleep once more, dreaming about cows, my German heritage, prayers. Old homes. Church. Sickly kittens. Wearing shorts, going barefoot in manure. My dad’s constant yelling. My mother’s constant warnings. The fireflies. My hope! My self-esteem. Things we expected would be dead now.
Kim Chinquee is a regular contributor to NOON, Denver Quarterly, and Conjunctions, and has also published work in Ploughshares, The Nation, Story Quarterly, Fiction, Mississippi Review, and over a hundred other journals. She is the author of the collections Oh Baby, Pretty, Veer, Shot Girls, and Wetsuit. She is Chief Editor of Elm Leaves Journal and Senior Editor of New World Writing. She co-directs the writing major at SUNY-Buffalo State, and lives in Glenwood, NY.