Shelled Locusts

My new story “Shelled Locusts” found a home at Spirit’s Tincture!


Shelled Locusts

The kitchen floor lined with cracked linoleum, bubbled with the smell of garlic-laced handprints. Rena stood closely to the counter and peeled away cornhusks, the soft strands of silk piling on the floor and her feet. She put the rough husks to the side—later, they would roll tamales, as they had every week for as many years as Rena could remember.

Her father sat in the corner on a rusted folding chair. He was whistle-thin with a mean curve to his back. Shells gathered in small piles on his lap, the floor, and a reed basket as he hulled speckled peas and wrapped his hands around the slender neck of his eighth bottle. With her sleeves rolled up, Rena studied the bruise that colored the length of her forearm as she pulled a toothbrush among the kernels. Forgetting herself, she knocked her arm against the counter, and her head rushed quickly. Dizzy, she stepped backward.

Rena’s father glanced upward and shifted in his seat. “Take care to keep the corn husks full, girl. Won’t do any good if they’re broken to bits” he said. Rena ran her arm under cold water in the sink and hoped her chest would quieten before the day ended, when she could curl and let her body repair itself. She felt a small tapping that began to tickle the surface of her skin, across her back, her thighs, her earlobe.

Her father grunted as he stood. “A real shame,” he said, dropping his beer bottle into the sink with the clean corn. His body was sick with sweat. “Light’s fading. I don’t know if we’ll have time to roll tamales tonight. Maybe tomorrow.” He dipped another beer from the cold box and fell onto his old cot, not bothering to change out of the clothes he’d worn for three days.

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