Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, My Mother Was An Upright Piano by Tania Hershman

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.”

― Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories

Plano, Texas

From my old journal, The Daily Epiphany, October 13, 1998:

Turn off the porch light

The knife plunges through the firm orange flesh
and slices a circle across the top of the head
It comes out like a plug
and I reach in and pull out
the wet stringy gooey sticky mess

The kids poke the eyes
nose mouth
out with little metal saws
hunched over concentrating
on the horrible task

I take a big spoon
and clean the inside of the orb
the firm flesh
makes a hollow thumping sound

We build our little fires
inside the hollow heads
Place one on each side
of the front door
turn off the porch light
OOOO! see the yellow glow

smell the burning punkin

On the way to work out at the health club I ran into Candy and the kids coming out of Nick’s piano lessons. I spotted her getting into the MiniVan in front of Poteet High School and pulled in to say hello.

Lee asked me if I had remembered to buy some pumpkins for him and, of course, I had forgotten. After a hard workout I drove to soccer practice and switched with Candy, she went out to eat with some friends. I made a deal with the kids and after practice we went to the grocery store to pick out pumpkins to carve.

They spent forever choosing two from the big bins. Nick searched for the roundest, most perfectly shaped fruit while Lee simply chose the biggest he could find. I also bought two metal knives, dull, with saw edges, designed to be safe for children to carve Jack-O-Lanterns.

We set up in the garage, newspaper on the floor, big bowl to collect pumpkin guts and seeds, big spoons, and a towel to clean slime off our hands as we worked. I helped them get started but Nick and Lee did most of the work themselves, cutting and cleaning.

Nick did fine, his Jack-O-Lantern was good. Lee, though, made his a work of art. He went in the house and produced a drawing he had done earlier with the design he wanted for the face. Lee proceeded to sit there with that knife and sculpt the design faithfully in the firm flesh; working quickly with confident strokes on the 20 pound gourd (Nick’s weighed 11 pounds, they insisted we weigh them on the vegetable scales in the store when we bought them).

I found some candles and matches and illuminated the lanterns, turning off the outside lights for the full effect. My timing was perfect, Candy came driving up right then and we dashed inside so she would be surprised.

And today’s flash fiction:

My Mother Was An Upright Piano by Tania Hershman

from Miramichi Flash

Tania Hershman Twitter

Tania Hershman Home Page

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