Crackers by Susan Tepper

Max buys Animal Crackers by the carton-load from e-bay. He tells you these are special, not the ones you get in the super (market). It bugs you how he always calls it the super. Anyway, the kitchen is stacked with unopened boxes from his last auction or however it’s done. You are not an e-bay kind of person, basically e-bay bores you. If you want a cookie you buy it direct. He is ecstatic over his latest e-bay acquisition of German Animal Crackers. He also bought Italian Animal Crackers, and in the spring there was a box marked Croatia. Now you tell him that Croatia is a vanished country. That these Animal Crackers could be a decade old. Max fights you on this point and becomes rather territorial. He stands next to the Croatia box and drapes one arm across it. Like you would steal or destroy it! My god you want to scream! Instead you boil some hot water for tea. Max asks what you’re doing. Boiling hot water you say. That seems to calm him. He nods. Then leaves you alone in the kitchen with the unopened cartons and a lot of fear in your heart.


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Filed under Susan Tepper

20 responses to “Crackers by Susan Tepper

  1. wow, i LOVE this. the light flow, how it swirls! that humor, somewhat sharp, wrapped in poetic language is your trademark also. it works so well because the poetry is behind the words not in your face. marvelous.

  2. Tina Barry

    Your first line sucked me right in. Somehow this story is both timely (with all the hoarders and strange behavior on television) and personal. Nicely done.

    • Tina, the hoarder thing never occurred to me until you mentioned it. I do tend to write from the unconscious level, and there’s been a lot on the news lately about hoarders. Thanks so much!

  3. Yes, E-bay… I think that with some people, it is more about E-bay than the actual purchase although in your story, obsessively collecting animal crackers would put fear in your heart. It is going to take more than a cup of tea. Doris

    • Doris, I agree, it is about an e-bay obsession with many people, rather than the purchase itself. I know people who buy “anything” on e-bay, the worst junk! Thanks so much for your read and comment, Doris!

  4. Tee hee hee… Why do I suddenly have the urge for tea and animal crackers? They last forever; right? :)

  5. This is hilarious. Of all possible obsessions, this one would never occur to me. Well done.

  6. guy

    As the title says, this guy is crackers.

    The voice of reason here comes off a little touched, too. I think it’s a product of how i react to the second person. To me it seems like a slightly aggressive situating of the reader within the sentences and their significations. Some types of crazies speak in the same way. I can also read this as the voice of someone who refers to herself in the second person. That also seems slightly crazy.

  7. lots of great language–“a vanished country.” loved the building of tension and how they become “territorial” like animals. sharp.

  8. brilliant little piece, so many levels to read this — the hoarding, the obsession and control, the quirkiness of this couple. I love the unadorned way you to tell this story, clean and clear. Peace…

  9. Susan, you never cease to amaze me! This flash is filled with wonder and complexity, the voice, the second person POV and the hoarding as theme. Hmm…lots to contemplate, tagged to return and read again and again. Damn, I love this site!

  10. just reread it. so good, the images it holds, vanished country and piling ebay aquisitiations. wonderful sad ending line, like a door to another level of the story (and the boxes).

  11. John Riley

    Love that this lost soul buys cookies from a lost country. A wonderful satire on the acquisition mania. The last line leads to so many interpretations. It’s so very good.

  12. Wonderful! You have fleshed out an entire novel’s worth of a relationship in so few, lovely words. “That seems to calm him” is wonderful, with its undercurrents and false tranquility!

  13. Well, Susan, I’d never heard of animal crackers, so I had to google them. So then, crackers shaped like animals. In cartons. From Croatia…
    This is a tense piece, made me twitchy, brought on nervous laughter. I liked how you mixed the bizarre behaviour with the mundane and your use of the second person just added to the effect. Brilliant.

  14. I collect M&Ms from other countries and, indeed, the very best deals on them can be found on eBay. Much cheaper than buying them from food distribution warehouses. Everyone that visits my home knows to handle the M&Ms at their own risk. I can relate.

    But I never would have thought of collecting animal crackers. Hm.

  15. Catherine Davis

    Crackers, indeed, Susan! The animal cracker satisfies something so deeply ingrained from childhood. It’s wonderful whimsy and at the same time seriously good relationship depiction. And I love being left with fear in my heart, oh yeah.

  16. Absolutely jealous of your talent. So, so well done.

  17. Pingback: Week #26 – Animal behavior | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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