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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 18: 29 Apr. 2023
Microfiction: 208 words
By Tina Barry

My year of telling lies


After my father left, I told the babysitter that I bit my nails because my mother refused to cut them. I told my mother that the school secretary was retiring and she should apply for the job. The secretary told my mother that at 40 she was nowhere near retirement age. I told my art teacher Phil Stein, aka “El Steino,” that I knew Picasso and that he admired my work. And I told my class that my father wouldn’t be attending parent/teacher night because he was training tigers with his circus troupe in Florida. My teacher peered over glasses, frowned. I was the weird city transplant, unaccustomed to the ways of suburban classrooms. And she had met my father, an insurance agent who wore suits and carried a briefcase, not silver tights and a whip. My teacher called that night. After a few minutes, I heard the phone slam into the receiver, braced myself for my mother’s howl. I expected some kind of punishment. Maybe a TV curfew: Lights out after Bonanza. Into bed before The Ed Sullivan Show. Instead she asked, “Why are you telling stories about Dad?” I shrugged. I had grown tired of saying, “He’s away on business.”

Tina Barry
Issue 18 (29 April 2023)

is the author of Beautiful Raft (Big Table Publishing, 2019) and Mall Flower (Big Table Publishing, 2016). Her writing can be found in Rattle, Verse Daily, The Best Small Fictions 2020 (spotlighted story) and TBSF 2016, Trampset, Gone Lawn, American Poetry Journal, ONE ART, Gyroscope Review, The Fourth River, Maryland Literary Review, Nasty Women Poets anthology, South Florida Poetry Journal, Sky Island Journal, and elsewhere. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has several Best of the Net nods. She teaches at The Poetry Barn and Writers.com.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Beautiful Raft: An Interview with Tina Barry by Hannah Grieco in Empty Mirror (28 February 2020)

A Friend’s Daughter Dies by Tina Barry in American Poetry Journal (Issue 14, Summer 2017)

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