I'll feed them biscuits as soon as they sit down, after they've washed in cold water poured from a cracked pitcher into a mismatched bowl and dried with an old flour sack. I'll fill their bellies with biscuits and fatback with a thin strip of bacon cut from that sow who bit me, and one egg for each because half of our chickens are too young to lay right now. I told Samuel to butcher that mean sow but he wouldn't, said she was a good breeder, so I killed her, bled her and hung her in the cooling shed when he was working the fields. He let her hang for days to punish me, knowing I'd finish her before the meat could spoil. I skinned and gutted her, saving the entrails for sausage casings, packed most of the meat in quart jars for canning, set aside the ribs, scraps for sausage, side meat and more for curing. Samuel took over while I rendered the fat in a cast iron kettle knowing it had to be stirred constantly while the lard cooked out. That was the first time I felt the baby kick and I ran upstairs to tell Mother, then back to the kitchen to stir the kettle and worry over what chores needed to be done before he arrived. Samuel insists we have a boy first to help on the farm, as if he can order up a son, but I want a daughter for the pleasure of her company and a little help of course. Mother and I are the only women among five men at our table, Samuel and four hungry field hands, and I have more men to feed who sleep in the barn at harvest time. Mother is sickly, stays in her room most of the day, does little but dusting and mending. She has delivered eleven babies including one of her own, my sister Bertha who died from diphtheria before her third birthday, and I want her here to deliver mine. It's nearly dawn now. The men sit down, drink their first cup of coffee, slather butter on hot biscuits and dig into their breakfast. As soon as they leave I'll wash up and start cooking dinner. They'll be starving by noon after working hard all morning.
This story was written after In the Distance by Andrea Kowich (USA, contemporary.) Click here to view.
Jill Loomis is an emerging flash fiction writer and a New Yorker, lucky to live within walking distance of museums, live theatre and Central Park. She began writing for pleasure in 2019 following a career raising funds for nonprofits. Her first piece was published in STORGY Magazine, and one received honorable mention in the 2021 CRAFT Flash Fiction Contest. Jill is an enthusiastic participant of SmokeLong Fitness and more writing workshops.
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