:: Article

Pork Chops

By Gail Louise Siegel

On Jeff’s night to cook they had pork chops. Clearing the greasy plates, Sandy spied a wisp of vapor floating near the chandelier, as if someone had exhaled a long drag from a cigarette. Neither of them smoked. Sandy stepped into the den and found smoke pluming out from behind the fireplace. “I think the house is on fire.” Her voice was calmer than she felt, or than she thought she should feel. Jeff punched 911 into the kitchen handset and talked to a dispatcher. Sandy hefted the baby onto her hip. “Jeff, it’s a portable phone,” she scolded, heading out the door. She waited at the hydrant for the fire trucks, as if they wouldn’t find it. The house looked normal. No leaping flames, no billowing gray clouds. The baby cooed and reached for a chartreuse caterpillar crawling up Sandy’s blouse. It would become a monarch if they kept it in a jar and fed it milkweed. All the jars were inside the house with their clothes, their gnawed pork chops, and the cobalt blue fighting fish, touring his bowl on the kitchen counter. Fire trucks blocked the street; handsome young men unfurled flat beige hoses from spools. Jeff waved to the fire chief. Sandy placed her finger into the caterpillar’s path and let it climb onto her hand, then set it on the neighbor’s lawn, away from stampeding boots and hoses. A firefighter on the roof hatcheted his way into the attic, releasing the inferno and setting the sky ablaze. There was a smudge on the baby’s nose. Sandy searched her pocket for a tissue but it was empty save for a paper clip and grainy lint. She rubbed out the smudge with her forefinger and raised it to her nostrils. She inhaled: pork chops.

Gail Louise Siegel‘s work appears in Juked, Ascent, StoryQuarterly, Pindeldyboz, Salamander, Post Road, The North Dakota Quarterly, Night Train, Zoetrope All-Story Extra, Pearl, Brevity, flashquake, Outsider Ink, Taxara, 3:AM, The Salt River Review and other journals and anthologies. She ruminates at Wish It Were Fiction.


Gail Louise Siegel (right) and her “baby”.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, March 8th, 2007.