by Rae Bryant

The day we visited the county fair, the piglets were born. They huddled into their mother, nipping and rooting at her teats. The sow lay there as dead. And an insatiable urge came over me. My nipples had turned hard and vulnerable, watching those piglets suck life from their mother. I tried, at first, to be covert about it. Rubbed my upper arm, slowly, against my breast. Then I rubbed with bigger movements, turning my waist and shoulders for better reach because in a flash of some unbelievable memory the largest of the piglets, the one rooting and pushing the others away with its big piglet head, was sucking at me. And the boy with his arm around my waist said, What’s wrong?

The piglets make my nipples itch.

You’ll be fine.

How long till you think they’ll have piglets of their own?

Don’t know. Not long I guess. Some of them will go to slaughter.

Next, we visited the mannequin pumping air from a dry water pump into an empty bucket. She wore a long prairie dress and a bonnet tied beneath her chin. Someone had tethered her arm to a metal bar and pins and a little motor and wheel that moved her arm, kept her pumping all day on a small rise with a sign on the front. Something about real estate development. She should have been tired but her face had come off a runway. A glassy ease. Lips painted like Paris. And I laughed. Don’t you think it’s funny? I said.

Want to go see the horses? Or we could ride The Blizzard. They’re playing Guns N’ Roses on The Blizzard. I could ride and listen to Guns N’ Roses all day. Someone should book Guns N’ Roses for the stage next year.

We could see the piglets again.

Rae Bryant’s short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, released from Patasola Press in June 2011. Her stories have appeared or are soon forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, BLIP Magazine, Gargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications and have been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, and Pushcart awards. She writes essays and reviews for such places as New York Journal of Books, Puerto del Sol, and The Nervous Breakdown.

I love that the central image here, or one of them, is piglets. How did they find there way into your fiction?

I live in a rural area outside DC and Baltimore. Piglets and Holsteins and cornfields. Once a year, we have a county fair. I’ve been going to this particular county fair since middle school. It’s another world ripe with stories of shit-kickers and shotguns versus pop culture. That and I have an artistic fascination with pigs and piglets. Started with Lord of the Flies, I guess. I also like rabbits in stories. Creepy bunnies are a beloved motif from Donnie Darko to McCarthy.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now OPEN. The submission period closes June 15, 2020; submit here.


09/07 • Paige Welsh
09/09 • Avital Gad-Cykman
09/10 • Amy Bobeda (6 of 6)
09/14 • Julianne Di Nenna
09/16 • Joey Kim
09/17 • Erika Kanda
09/21 • Brittany Oppenheimer
09/23 • Pamela Painter