Category Archives: Susan Tepper

Cans by Susan Tepper

Carl put two soup cans together by stringing miles and miles of cord. I lay on my bed watching him, my sandals kicked off, the moths beaming around the lamp light and the smell of Ma’s fried chicken. Daddy finally woke up from his drunk. He took a shower then went to the kitchen and pinched her ass. “Mother,” he said quite severely. He calls her Mother when he’s been bad. Lately his badness is on the rise. My Aunt Star says he’s got another woman. Ma just shook a hand at Aunt Star but I believe it. So does Carl. He told me not to worry that men do that sort of thing all the time. Right now he’s got the soup cans attached and he’s grinning. The tops and bottoms are taken off with a can opener. We’re going to loop them from my bedroom window straight across the alley to his bedroom window. Carl says this way we can do pillow talk. It’s some old movie we watched on the movie station. That movie’s a hundred years old Carl told me. Then rubbed near his zipper making me feel all nervous and funny.

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The Blanket by Susan Tepper

On the business trip to Calgary she bought one of those white blankets with the green and red and yellow border stripes. Henry calling it ugly when she takes it out of the suitcase and drapes it across the foot of their bed. It’s a famous pattern from that region of Canada she tells him. He kind of snorts then leaves her alone to finish unpacking. She kicks off her shoes and climbs on the bed resting her face against the blanket’s soft wooliness. Every night as they walked to dinner they passed a group of prostitutes. It was January and so cold there. The women stood on the corner near the steakhouse turning this way and that. Most of them had on very short skirts with short furry jackets. Cheap looking fur like rabbit. She wondered how they could endure. Their legs exposed in such frigid weather. She could hardly make it into the steak house. She rubs her face against the Calgary blanket. Thinking about those women rubbing their faces into the bodies of men.

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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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Fog by Susan Tepper

My head’s been wired for sound. I told the docs not to do this. I said I don’t want to hear ANYTHING. They said you have to. You cannot go around with your head in a fog. I like the fog I said. I like the color and texture. I like that you can’t see two feet ahead in really good fog. I like how it conjures up the living and the dead. I like to walk the mountain road in fog. It’s a low mountain, but all the same.

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Hydra, 1980 by Susan Tepper

At the harbor I notice a small boat that has a wooden hull and a tall wood mast. Reminds me of my boat back home. We’ve come here by ferry from Athens. No cars careen around this island. Hills dominate the landscape. Houses are stacked. We buy lace from an old woman in a shack near the water’s edge. Goats patrol the streets. That night we stay in the only hotel. One big room at the top of a square building. We strangers sleep together family style. It’s November. Warm enough to swim but I don’t.

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Bitch at Heart by Susan Tepper

Their kid was ugly. The mother was ugly and the father was ugly. What chance did the little kid have? People said what people always say: What a cute kid— stuff like that. The parents beamed. I could never bring myself to say it. My husband told me they would hold it against me. I’ll take my chances I said.

On Tuesday we went to dinner at their place. What a mess. Newspapers from a hundred years stacked next to the cold fireplace. Junk strewn everywhere. The wife stirred things in a pot then stuck in her bare hand to fiddle with some string holding the meat together. Not even out of the pot and already I’d lost my appetite.

My husband made a big show out of smacking his lips and making hunger noises. It got unbearable. I pushed the meat around my plate eating a few carrots. When we got home he told me off for not eating the meat and that started a big screaming match.

The next day the husband phoned to say it was obvious I did not enjoy myself at their place. My own husband protested saying I had a wonderful time but was just a bitch at heart. And that they musn’t take me seriously

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Waking Up by Susan Tepper

There is soup in a puddle around you, an orange puddle like melted, but you don’t understand how it got there, or why. Accept this and move around the puddle you think. But you feel rooted there. As if a tree is under the ground ready to sprout like springtime, and the roots are pushing against the soles of your shoes. You worry they will stain your shoes orange, all this pushing and puddling. You want to bend down and lick the puddle, lap at it like a cat then find a corner to curl in. Of course this won’t happen. Outside your tent is the war and you are so tired.

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