“Mrs. White in the Ballroom with the Lead Pipe”

What you do is text, text, text. We’re playing Clue with the girls. You can’t be bothered to help Ruby hold her cards in a fan because you’re too busy fiddling with that damn phone. “Matt, will you please” I say again, and when you look up, “Will you please help Ruby with her cards?” “Oh right,” you say, and Alice elbows me and laughs. Silly Daddy.

But I know that stupid look is a mere Japanese mask for the fucking-around look, I can see it underneath like pink, burned skin under sunscreen. So I send you to the kitchen to make us possible murderers some cinnamon toast. While you’re looking for the bread (“Matt, it’s in the refrigerator”) I help myself to your cell. Alice sees me of course, she’s like her mom, she doesn’t miss a trick. But I hold my finger to my lips; we’re playing another game. My smiling girl eliminates a weapon from her sheet. I scroll through your phone.

Ruby drops the candlestick. The card lands like a roof on her sippy cup.

Here’s what I wish: that I could smash your head, which you’ve shaved to pretend that going bald is a choice you’re making; that I could splash something stickier than apple juice all over the floor. Except guess who would have to clean it up?

About Kim Magowan

Kim Magowan has fiction published or forthcoming in Arroyo Literary Review, Atticus Review, Bird's Thumb, Breakwater Review, Broad!, Cleaver, Corium Magazine, Crack the Spine, descant, Fiction Southeast, 580 Split, The Gettysburg Review, Gravel, Hobart,, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Jellyfish Review, JMWW, Literary Orphans, Moon City Review, Oakland Review , Parcel, River City, Sixfold, SNReview, Squalorly, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and Word Riot. She is currently working on a novel and a short story collection.



  • Heather

    Devastating and so well-written.