Category Archives: Susan Tepper

V by Susan Tepper

For my birthday he gave me a necklace. A shell necklace that hangs just below the bones in my neck. At the V. He likes to kiss that part of my neck. He says only the really beautiful girls have the V. He says the fat girls have it but it’s hidden under fat. He says it’s a shame but their own fault. He says they should eat less. Now that got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about turning fat. I do eat quite a lot of food.

What if I turn to fat? What if my V disappears? Won’t he love me anymore? I want to ask my Aunt Star. She has opinions. But Ma says she’s off with some man for the night. I go up and hang the shell necklace on my lamp shade. Then I go outside and sit on the porch. Grandpop is smoking and rocking. He passes me the pipe and I take a few puffs. I ask him if Grandma had the V. He said what V and goes on puffing. Then I go back up to bed. I look at my necklace on the lamp shade. It looks so innocent.

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Overcooked by Susan Tepper

At night Junie gets itchy. It starts with her back. Scratch it, will ya? she’ll say to anyone around. Sometimes we all ignore her and go on watching TV. She shimmys her back up and down the door frame. You got fleas, Buster said one night. It was the night Aunt May overcooked the spaghetti. She got into a big fight with Uncle Gil over plum tomatoes or fresh from the garden. By the time that spaghetti hit the table it had turned to mush. Uncle Gil got up and went to a bar. He didn’t say but we all knew. Aunt May sat alone in the kitchen and drank down the red wine decanter. Junie was hopping around trying to get a scratch from someone. Use this, Buster said, handing her a stretched out coat hangar. Just then Aunt May wobbled into the living room. She let out a shriek like a wild bird. We all stopped to look. Even Junie.

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Pie by Susan Tepper

When Lacey wants an apple her mother makes her bake a whole pie first. From scratch. The water in the flour, the kneading, the rolling of the dough, the pressing in the pyrex dish, the peeling of the apples, the sprinkled cinnamon. Then the top crust. The top crust breaks Lacey every time. She can’t get that top crust right. She gets holes and tries patching. Little dough squares that look like knee patches. Her mom starts yelling that the pie is a failure. Lacey covered in flour. She cries out and drops to the floor. Every time she drops to the floor and wails there. Just once I’d like her to stand up and wail. But, no. So the pie gets thrown away. Her mother cackles like the old witch that she is. And Lacey goes to bed without her apple. It’s time to run away, I told her the other day. Lacey looked suspicious of me. Well how many pies this week? I asked her. She shrugged; and continues to act like I am the enemy.

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Cold Cuts by Susan Tepper

Chenille was wrapping the cold cuts in Saran and it was horrible. She’s such a fucking retard, why do they give her jobs that are important? I like my cold cuts fresh. Chenille’s got the cheese wedged in crooked and not even fully covered. Look, I tell her mother Millie, you have to take charge of this. Millie gives me the high eyebrow then makes one of those go get fucked arm movments that were popular during the 70’s. I was a kid then but remember my brother Al doing it to his workers when they installed carpet wrong. It’s the same thing all over again with Chenille. They should put her in a facility Al says. That Millie keeps her around like a freak show. I think Millie gets off on people staring at Chenille. Otherwise she’d keep the kid locked in the house. Even when Chenille isn’t wrapping cold cuts she’s a train wreck. Her lipstick goes on crooked and one side is higher. It makes her look extra wacked. She’s got really thick black eyebrows that stick straight out. Al said that’s from all the shock therapy. Al said Millie should pluck the kid’s eyebrows. Al said that the other day.

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Puffing by Susan Tepper

Who woulda thought my wife Mabel woulda gone out to Sears & Roebuck and bought the same coat with brown flecks in gray wool that Janelle Stevens bought? Those two been arch enemies since grade school. One likes peanut butter, one likes jelly. One likes chocolate, one vanilla. You get the picture, I told Rudy. Rudy nodded and went about wiping down the oil from the paint shaker machine. For a hardware guy he shoulda known better. You put too much oil, I said. Rudy nodded and lit a cigarette. You can get cancer, I said. Rudy stubbed out the cigarette. Why d’ya pay attention to me? I asked him. You got the one I wanted, he said. You got Mabel Brady. I only got Janelle Stevens. Mabel Brady has the bigger chest. Well how ’bout that, I said puffing out my own chest.

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Tea Pot by Susan Tepper

After we buried all the large bills in her sweater bin under the bed, we put the twenties, tens and fives in her teapot collection. Annie didn’t want the money in her favorite one. It’s a teapot made to look like a lemon that we bought in Italy that time. While we were still getting along. The one that has a small ceramic lemon and green ceramic leaves sticking out of its lid. The one she uses for iced tea. That she used to use for ice tea. Before I cheated. When she still trusted me. When she trusted the water was safe for drinking. When she trusted the lemon peel was OK unpeeled in the pot. When she lifted the stove kettle without a pot holder. When she thought she was lovely. All that.

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Trading by Susan Tepper

After supper in the summer we traded baseball cards outside. My brother had the best ones and the other kids would give ten for his one. He was a cagey trader. I found it all rather boring. I only stuck around because there was nothing else to do. Plus I scooped up bubble gum that often fell from the cards to the ground during the haggling over the cards. My brother screamed loudest. He was stocky and strong. He brought Mr. Chips our German Shepherd along as mascot. If someone got out of line Mr. Chips growled. It kept a lid on things. Until the night Richie from the city came. He was visiting his cousin Louie for the week. We all stood under Mrs. Carney’s big tree. The spreading one with the caterpillars. Every so often a caterpillar would fall on the sidewalk or someone’s head or their back. We were used to it. Richie was afraid and started to screech and carry on. My brother screamed he should shut up he was spoiling the action. Mr. Chips barked loudly. I found a few more pieces of gum that were still nicely wrapped and tucked them in my pocket for later.

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