And We Screamed
by Tamika Thompson | Orca
The decision I made decades ago to stop eating animals can be traced back to the day my father shot that hog. I was nine, standing barefoot in a field of collards, just across the dirt road from my Grandma and Grandpa’s pigpen. All morning long, Daddy kept saying we were going to have ham that night, and being from Detroit and on an extended vacation in the open fields of Creekmore, Alabama, I assumed he’d meant he was going to the grocery store to purchase the ham, rolled in cling wrap or perhaps already glazed, with pineapple slices toothpicked around the top, but standing there in the July sun with my six-year-old cousin Junior, I realized that even though daddy wasn’t drunk, he was fixin’ to do something crazy.
Beebaw’s Endless Pocket
by Tamika Thompson | Literary Orphans
Beebaw always smelled of brisket, so the envelope he sent to my hospital bed brought to mind the scent forcefully enough that I sniffed the paper for the aroma of meat. The odor was not present, but the message, which had arrived by courier the morning after I delivered my daughter, was addressed to me: For Relinka, my Puddinghead. The package felt like sorcery in my hands, as if he’d written to me directly from his grave.
by Tamika Thompson | Glass Mountain, Volume 19
I answered Nguyen-Nwagwu’s classified ad requesting “gorgeous dolls” to work as mannequins for one reason – I was broke and lived in Manhattan. Back home, Grandmother had taken a tumble down the basement stairs forcing her to shut down the blind pig that she operated out of her house. With no cash coming in from that after-hours liquor and gambling business, money was tight. It was 1993. And cleaning plates at the old folks’ home – as sweet as many of the sickly ones were – was only bringing in sixty dollars a week. If I didn’t find cash fast, I was going to have to leave the university because I was hungry all of the time and unable to keep up with the student tuition contribution that I owed. Quitting school and ending up back at Grandmother’s blind pig was not an option. Well, it was, but not for me.
by Tamika Thompson | Pantheon Magazine, “Typhon: A Monster Anthology, Volume 2”
The envelope from the public health department had been sitting on Steve’s kitchen counter for a week, buried beneath a heap of unopened bills and shut-off notices. In search of his bottle opener, only two millimeters thick so it could fit in his back pocket, Steve scratched his straggly beard and rooted around the stack of papers in search of the nickel-plated steel he was certain lay underneath. He only wanted one thing – to drink the lager sweating through the bottle in his hand. To feel the cold, numbing liquid ease into him, dissolving his growing headache, making him forget everything that came before this day, this moment when he’d found himself sober and standing in an apartment that smelled of leftover mac and cheese and boiled bologna. But a notice on the bottom of the pile distracted him with its red capital letters across the front – “OPEN IMMEDIATELY.”
The Devil Be Here in a Minute
by Tamika Thompson | The Matador Review
Quinlan showed up to Shiloh’s Twelfth Annual Smokin’ Barbecue Fest because his big sister Fawna had promised him two things. First, that he’d find out what she did on Saturday afternoons after her shift at Doddie’s Diner. He figured her free time had something to do with her hickey, which Ma had grounded her for the previous week, but, when he had a question, he liked cold hard facts and not speculation, so his “figuring” would never suffice. Second, he’d been promised a Shiloh Cone with two scoops of butter pecan ice cream. The dessert he could almost taste on his tongue.
Man of Text
by Tamika Thompson | Black Heart Magazine
The hospital’s outer walls crumble. Outside the window, red flecks of brick float past the glass. His ragged breath escapes his body with a whistle. In the leather chair, he shifts his skinny frame. His end is near, he suspects, but he waits for the good doctor to come and tell him how long.
A knock at the door. He turns his head and the needles of bad circulation prick his neck. The knob twists, and in walks the doctor, wearing her stethoscope over a pale blue collared shirt and carrying a stack of papers against her bosom. The doctor mostly keeps her eyes on the cracked tile floor. More bad news is coming.
by Tamika Thompson | HUIZACHE
The “Odessa-Goes-Missing” day begins like every Monday. I awake, slump down the seventeen stairs of my childhood home, and arrive in the den to check on Ma, who is sitting in her recliner laughing at the blank television screen. She has lined the walls with aluminum foil.
I peel a scrap of the foil down and see that she has used something green for paste. Beside the wooden elephant sculptures she made in art therapy, twelve open jars of pesto line the curio as if she has placed them on display as well.
by Tamika Thompson | Flash Fiction Magazine
Her phone rests atop the bluff. Her left hand conceals the item she found in the attic three days ago. Her naked foot toes the edge. Her regrets are legion.
She’s in the same pencil skirt that she wore to her appointment that Friday. There are no pasta sauce smudges or ketchup stains near the buttons on her blouse because she hasn’t eaten.
Her pulse slows.
Life’s a round-trip ticket, she tells herself. This is just her return flight.