BLUE: SMOKE: COTTON: TEETH: CAT: JELLY: BLOW
by Anne Panning
I rarely wear blue, but today there’s a striped dress the color of rain in my closet. It’s a pullover. I can hardly stand how good it feels against my bare knees, walking.
When I lived in the Philippines, I became a party smoker. The cigarettes were menthol, loosely packed. The brand was called Hope. I quit.
My sister works at a fireworks factory. She has to wear all cotton clothing, right down to the underwear. When I ask her what she does all day, she says, “The usual.”
One of my teeth, one of my front teeth, is porcelain. A clay animation artist made it. The dentist said to me, “Be careful. It’s like china. It can break.”
I got a dog instead of a cat because I know a cat could eat me. My dog is part poodle and not very smart. When the groomer ties holiday ribbons around her neck and sends her home smelling like oatmeal, our whole family applauds.
Last night I dreamed my dead father was lying in bed, drunk, his hands covered in bright red raspberry jelly.
Every night I sleep with two fans blowing madly through my bedroom: a box and an oscillating. The air is chilled and hard and loud. When I turn them off in the morning, it’s a terrible silence.
Anne Panning has published a novel, Butter, as well as a short story collection, Super America, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She has also published short work in places such as Bellingham Review, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Florida Review, Passages North, Black Warrior Review, The Greensboro Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Kalliope, Quarterly West, The Kenyon Review, The Laurel Review, Five Points, River Teeth, Cimarron Review, West Branch, and Brevity (4x). Four of her essays have received notable citations in The Best American Essays series. She teaches creative writing at SUNY-Brockport.
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