Camelous, Said Dave, When The Marriage Counselor Asked Him to Describe His Wife

by Kayla Pongrac


And after he shared this adjective, Dave added, “It’s because Mary carries around these massive grudges that remind me of camel humps. They’re so . . . obvious.” Mary sat quietly in her chair, wondering how she could describe Dave; surely their counselor was going to ask her the same question. If she was “camelous,” he was desert material, too: dry of tongue and uninhabitable of heart. The counselor cleared her throat and asked Mary to briefly respond to Dave’s word choice. Was his description accurate? “Well,” Mary said, “I’d like to think I’m octopuslicious because sometimes I feel like I have three hearts and I can’t interest even one of them in forgiving him.”


Kayla Pongrac’s flash fiction chapbook, The Flexible Truth, was published in 2015 by Anchor and Plume Press. She’s currently working on a new collection of stories, which are being brought to fruition with support from: her favorite albums on repeat, many cups of hot tea, and her dog’s good company.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Camelous, Said Dave, When The Marriage Counselor Asked Him to Describe His Wife”?

Octopus vulgaris. Eight-limbed mollusk. Resides in every ocean in the world. Known for its exceptional ability to change color, to camouflage. Discharges ink when threatened. Two eyes, one beak, three hearts. Three hearts! That was the “fun fact” that captured my attention. I forget when and where I was reading about these fascinating creatures, but I do remember how that specific fact got me thinking: what if humans, like octopuses, had three hearts? That’s the origin of this piece.

I’d like to think that if I had three hearts, it would be so much easier to forgive those who have hurt me most, but the female character in this piece surprised me when she came alive on the page; she knew for certain that no matter how many hearts she had—one, three, fifteen—forgiving her husband wasn’t happening, and she felt no shame in that.


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 reading period for standard submissions closes June 15, 2021. Topical Thursdays’ submissions are open year-round. Submit here.


05/24 • Mike Itaya
05/27 • Elizabeth Edelgass
05/31 • Kayla Pongrac
06/03 • TBD
06/07 • TBD
06/10 • TBD
06/14 • TBD
06/17 • TBD
06/21 • TBD
06/24 • TBD
06/28 • TBD
07/01 • TBD
07/05 • TBD