Two Stories by Kim Chinquee

I Wanted to Believe This Was My Life

My ear buds played an instrumental. A piece I loved that was bland and uneven.

I did one lap, finding my car as a landmark. I’d parked in the usual place, where balls bounced and people hit them.

I felt on the verge of things. My payments, student papers, that report. A journal, asking for an essay. My dad, a never-ending question. My guy’s head, thinking he felt pressured.

The tune kept playing. I saw a team of boys enter with their baseballs. I passed the zoo, smelling a horse. No one passed, though I saw repeating faces.

The highway was close. I liked to see the whirl of cars passing, had been on that highway more than once, trying to see what all of this side looked like.

By the third lap, I was warm enough and happy. I still had the same song. I felt the wind. For a minute, I even put my arms out.

I felt high, like I was flying. I went round and round, like no one could stop me.


Lock Box

I was in the other room, checking his pockets, putting clothes in boxes. I wanted to wear his shirts, though they smelled like something bad I couldn’t remember. The flowered one he’d worn once on vacation. I remembered him in it, or maybe it was pictures. I was sure then, he didn’t want to be there, at the petting zoo, feeding deer and horses. I touched his clothes as if they were him, alive, as if I could have touched him.

I took a sweater of his. I would wash it. I would wear it. I remembered him in it, thirty years before that.

He used to work in wheat fields. He would step onto the tractor. My sister and I, we worked.

Later, lunch at Denny’s, we talked about what to do with the lorazep, trihexphen, risperidone, fluoxetine, the haldol in the lock box. I ate my soup, saying we should party.

My sister talked about a bonnet, his mother in a picture, said she remembered that one time, how he grabbed my neck and dragged me. I told her I didn’t remember that as much as the time she ran naked, how after that he beat her in the bathroom. My sister remembered him pinching me so bad it scarred me. I sucked my broth, said I wondered where that came from.

She had a sandwich. We had more work at the apartment. We had to call the pastor. We had to call the county. There was a caseworker. We had to pay for his ashes.

When the bill came, she got out his wallet that we’d found on his counter. She left a big tip, saying, Thanks, Dad. We toasted with our waters, hard, then sipping politely.

More fiction at Used Furniture.


  1. This is such a sad story, about an abusive father. You still had to pay his dead bills.


  1. […] lunch at Denny’s, we talked about what to do with the lorazep, trihexphen, risperidone, fluoxetine, the haldol in the lock box. Tags: flash, kim chinquee […]

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