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PARTY TRAY

by

Kim Chinquee



Janet cut radishes and dropped them in the salad. She looked out the window, seeing her son and Jack, her husband, blowing bubbles up together, watching them fall and pop. Their dog, Rosie, moved across the yard, cuddling up to Jack. Rosie just had surgery. There had been a tumor on her eardrum.

A CD from her husband's band played from his tiny boom box.

A week ago, Janet found out she was pregnant. She did not tell her husband. It was not her husband's baby.

Janet kept looking out the window, cutting celery, carrots, mushrooms. Ecstasy played another tune, this one bigger, louder.

Her son Stu came inside, leaning on his mother, resting his big head on her shoulder. "You feel hot," he said. Today he would be ten.

Janet passed out before the party, and Jack called 911.

***

Later on, Stu and Jack went out for ice cream. At Mercy, Janet watched races on TV. Nurses came and went, taking all her vitals. Janet smiled and politely told them Thank You.

Jack came back. Stu was with the sitter. "He's worrying for you," Jack said.

Outside, it was raining. Jack knew it could not have been his baby.

She'd gone out one Friday night when Jack was touring with his band. She'd left Stu with the sitter. At a bar called Fat Cat, she'd been talking to a man, who had said he was a vet, about Rosie's eardrum. He walked her to her car. She told the vet man thank you. He needed a ride home. Janet told him maybe not. He got out his pistol. He took off all her clothes. He left a mark inside her. That was what she remembered.

Jack said he'd find the man. Maybe he would kill him.

***

The family would sit together, watching sitcoms on TV. They would take turns petting Rosie.







ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Chinquee's fiction has appeared in over sixty journals such as Denver Quarterly, Noon, North Dakota Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, Cottonwood, The Chattahoochee Review, The Arkansas Review, and others. She received a Henfield Prize. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.




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