:: Article

In the Summer

By Amaryllis Gacioppo.

The man I am seeing has decided it is time for his children to meet me. We are at a park kiosk, eating overpriced sandwiches over a white plastic table. There is so much white bread and so little ham. The children are in high chairs even though he tells me they are eight and nine. One is too wide for his high chair, the older one I think. He is placed on a diagonal, the right side of his body resting on the arm of the high chair.

I feel a pang of pity for the staff. In a few hours, one of them will be wiping down the high chairs from the slosh of small children – choked-up food mashed with bodily matter.

The older one is not happy with his seating arrangement, spitting and hissing from his mandible jaw, snapping his pincers in the general direction of his father, and his sister imitates him, slipping forward in the chair on her shellacked stomach. The children bear only a slight resemblance to the father, who has a man face and a man body, saving for his pincer fingers. All three of them turn their sandwiches into a cascade of torn bread, and I pick up my sandwich and feed the man, who has been looking at me with the polite trepidation of a driving instructor. It is summer and I say: Don’t worry, I don’t eat in the summer.

I think about how in a few months I could chuckle and say, What would you do without me?

When he is finished I try to feed the girl, but she hisses and spits and snaps her pincers at my outstretched fingers. I jump and cradle my hand and glance at the man, and think about how in a few months he might look at me proudly, as I lower his children into a steaming bath.

For now, there is a migraine flowering on the underside of my skull which I must grin through, and the man laughs and I laugh, and then there is our laughter, the sound hollow like we are in a tin can, and the clacking and the gnashing of the children.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amaryllis Gacioppo is an Australian writer. Currently she is undertaking a PhD in creative writing with Monash University and the University of Bologna. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing, Going Down Swinging, Two Serious Ladies, Catapult, and elsewhere.

 

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

Digitally altered photograph of an ivory netsuke by Naitō Toyomasa (1773-1856), an artist often associated with the Tamba school.

 

 

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, July 31st, 2017.