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Mauled

by Kim Magowan

 

How many times had Jacqueline told Jerry to stop ripping off chunks of bread? The least he could do would be to neatly slice a piece, to bother with cutting board and knife. She always had to saw off the mauled part. When the kids complained there wasn’t enough garlic bread she’d glare at Jerry, and he’d look oblivious. And yes, she recognizes this grievance is a cliché, akin to complaining about husbands leaving socks on the floor (how hard is it to deposit them in the hamper? No harder than taking out a damn cutting board). But the biggest cliché of all: what she would give, now, for a mauled loaf of bread. How Jerry of Jerry, for his absence to be as intrusive as his presence was—his greedy hands, his abandoned socks, his farts that lingered, like he lingers, now that Jacqueline reminds herself again (and fucking again) to use past tense for Jerry.

 

Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing (2018) won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award. Her novel The Light Source (2019) was published by 7.13 Books. Her fiction has been published in Atticus Review, Cleaver, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and many other journals. Her story “Madlib” was selected for Best Small Fictions 2019 (Sonder Press). Her story “Surfaces” was selected for Wigleaf’s Top 50 2019. She is the Fiction Editor of Pithead Chapel. www.kimmagowan.com

 

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This story has an autobiographical basis: I often buy loaves of Sweet Batard to make garlic bread (my daughters’ favorite dinner side course), and I literally have to hide the bread or my husband will tear off hunks of it. (I will not identify the hiding place here, in case Bryan reads this, but suffice to say, it’s a good one). The day I drafted this micro, he got to the loaf before I could tuck it away. I channeled into this story first my irritation (why is no bread safe from him!?), then my fantasy of what would secure the safety of the bread (absent husband), and then, immediately, my feeling of loss at what that absence, if it were literal and complete, would mean in my life.

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