Scoop by Matt Potter

“Do Afghanis eat ice cream?” I ask.

Her muscled biceps chaff inside regulation short sleeves as we tour the distribution point. “Yep, they love it.”

I’m unconvinced. Actually, I am not sure of anything here. I’ve left my assumptions at the front gate, beside the green wire fence that is being built around the refugee camp perimeter.

“Do they even know what an ice cream scoop is?”

We leave the open boxes of ice cream scoops and she swaggers, walkie-talkie on hip (I walk) past boxes of spatulas and cutlery sets and wooden spoons and serving spoons. I peer at the saucepan sets and chopping boards and springform cake tins as we pass those too, and stare open-mouthed at the walls of electric kettles and toasters and drinking glasses and tea towels stacked opposite.

But those ice cream scoops call me.

“What about the other groups coming here?” I ask. “Were they asked what they wanted in these houses?”

She turns and looks at me, like I’ve suddenly come onto her radar.

“They’ve been living in motels and barracks, some of them for more than a year,” she says, as if I’m an Introduction to Refugees student at the local community college. “They’ll get their own houses here and they’re gonna love it.”

I look at the set of her chin. And decide now is not the time to suggest, in my Activities Coordinator role, that I take them shopping for kitchen utensils they might really use.

.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Scoop by Matt Potter

  1. “They’ll get their own houses here and they’re gonna love it.” Definitely heard this voice before. I think you’ve perfectly captured the ‘smell’ of a whole bost load of assumptions. Nice that your narrator has some sense.

  2. Funny … so many of my narrators make no sense at all! Thanks Al – te time zones works for us!

  3. Perfectly done, Matt. There is an obvious border that separates the two ways of thinking.

  4. Kelly

    seen it before in your writing, but maybe never said it – you really have a way of making buzzing incongruities sound like a melody, that’s a talent

  5. Thanks Kelly – that comes from reading and loving all the works (especially the short stories) of Ellen Gilchrist, I think.

  6. The distance between the characters is loud and clear. Loved the last observation by the MC.

  7. I enjoyed this one, Matt- the two opposing characters, nice details, the foreign setting. You have an uncanny feel for dialogue and know just what a person might say, keeping true to character, as with your final interior monologue.

  8. Thank you Robert – nice praise from someone who writes good dialogue himself.

  9. Pitch perfect, Matt — the dialogue, the setting, the tension and distance between the two characters. Peace…

  10. the felt light and very complex at the same time. i read it twice. you are a clever writer, matt. nice job.

  11. Pingback: Week #37 – Border town | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  12. Fabulous story! Insightful, wise and sad. I like this narrator’s pragmatism and refusal to accept any bull shit.

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