Category Archives: Susan Tepper

Dummy by Susan Tepper

This blouse I just love hangs in Dibly’s window. Ma laughs when I bring up the fact of its pretty silky material. And how that peach color matches my skin. So come Saturday I go to Dibly’s to get a closer look. The saleslady smiles and takes it off the store dummy. Here, hon, she says to me. Holding it out for me to touch. It looks lumpy in her hands like peach vomit. Seeing that window dummy without its blouse is strange. No thank you, I say. All of a sudden feeling shy. I look again at the naked dummy. Then turning away I run out of the store.

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Owl by Susan Tepper

All night until the owl starts braying they play Monopoly. Rudy wins Park Place and Boardwalk over and over like a mafia don. I am so tired. I just hang on the wicker couch in the porch. They play on in the living room under the dim chandelier until the owl. Porky counts six from the owl. He says it’s over and flips the board. Rudy punches him and my sister Alma shrieks. My cousin Blink says shut up! shut up! I want to sleep in the woodshed but the vicious dog from next door hunts rabbits in there. He could be in there right now snooping. All the bedrooms are occupied by elder folk. We kids are supposed to sleep with blankets on the floor. I won’t. Bugs creep along the floor at night. Mice sometimes. I will stay on this stinking wicker couch until my back breaks in half and everyone notices I am two parts.

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Calendar by Susan Tepper

By the time it was spring the kitchen still wasn’t cleaned up. Every dish and pot and pan and bit of silverware filthy with dried on food. Potholders and dish rags and dish towels filthy. The countertops and table. Even the window sills had crud. I saw something that might have been old spaghetti sauce splatters. I scraped at it then sniffed. It smelled like something not tomato. Blood? There was a murder in this kitchen right around Christmas. They came in while we were sleeping and shot Wulka dead. He was cooking meth he knew his days were scattered. He used to say that after he made us promise. Keep quiet or your days are scattered Wulka said. Tootie was afraid and used to whimper in his sleep. We shared a room up top the house. I was scared but being older couldn’t let it show. After they shot Wulka someone hung a cloth calendar of the new year. It could have been his mother. She’s crazy-mean too. Home Sweet Home that calendar says in fancy lettering across the top.

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Cold Front by Susan Tepper

On the eastern border of Siberia they say nothing grows. Not even a cactus says Tootie. Oh will somebody shut that kid up. I want to kill him. I hate the way he eats. He slops his food like a little hog. I would like to take him to Siberia. Lose him in a big snow pile. My brother says Tootie is something we have to live with. Why? Why do we have to? I have seen other things go by the wayside. The turtle we named Fastie, for instance. It was put on Gramp’s old record turn table and spun off into space. We searched the whole room. Fastie was gone like a snow melt.

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Green Carnations by Susan Tepper

Itchy and Squirmy were the two ugliest twins you’d ever want to see. Ugly, and dirty. Plus they had big feet. My Aunt Luna says you can tell plenty from a man’s foot size about his others. Well I don’t want to know nothin’ about their feet or their other parts either. For the prom Squirmy bought a girl a wrist-corsage of all green carnations. Who does that sort of thing? The poor girl. She was so mortified. Kept trying to hide her carnation wrist behind her backside. Useless. People were everywhere in the big gymnasium. Sooner or later someone would get behind her and make some loud wisecrack. I figured she had to be pretty nuts. Pretty nuts to even think of going to the prom with Squirmy. My best friend Abbie said the girl was new in town. And love is love. Even so I said. Even so.

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Corner by Susan Tepper

On the corner the man with the dog sells pencils out of a cup. They are lined up yellow and perfect. The erasers up and the point part down. Each with its pink unused eraser. The kind I like to chew. I’m dying to steal one. How will he know? I ask my brother Tom. How will he know he’s blind? Tom says the dog will know. That the dog is trained to protect the man. The noon heat is killing me. Fumes from the cars are thick. I’m not going to mug him I say. I just want a pencil. Then pay for it Tom says. No I’m thinking. I want it free. The blind man doesn’t need money. Look at his shoes I tell Tom. Real leather and shiny. We have sneakers. He has more money than God. Tom says he’s going to let the dog bite me. He says it will leave a large gaping wound. Probably in my leg. Will it scar? I say. Tom says for sure. For sure and then no one will want you Rachel.

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Gum by Susan Tepper

At the rim of the spaceship there’s a ladder and a rail. I don’t understand why because they won’t let us go outside. I don’t understand why because the spacemen went outside. They got to walk on the moon. We bought first class and we are stuck inside all day and night. It’s not good to be confined without fresh air. I mention this to Dad who just laughs and pats my knee. Well it isn’t. I know that for a fact. But Dad just reads his newspaper and chews gum. Every few hours a new piece of gum. Have some gum he tells me. I frown and look away. Gum gives me headaches. But he doesn’t know that. He’s just the Dad. My mom knows that but she stayed behind. She said she’d take her chances.

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