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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Microfiction: 499 words
By Lorette C. Luzajic

The Arrangement


Mary finishes seasoning the chicken thighs and slides them into the oven. Turmeric, paprika, briny green olives and lemon. It’s her own concoction, inspired by Moroccan tagine, a family favourite since her travels a decade gone already. She begins to pull apart the Romaine and pile the leaves into a wooden bowl.

Mom’s hands are unsteady as she pours their tea. Mary has noticed the changes of aging are coming at her more quickly since Dad’s been gone. She turns up more often to make dinner or just to drop off an arrangement of fresh flowers. Then they chit chat over a pot of tea.

The air fills with bergamot and the spices starting to sizzle in the fat of the bird. Mary sips her tea. She can tell by the way that Mom keeps rubbing her lips together that she is anxious about something. “Something on your mind today, Mom?”

After a long, nervous pause, the older Mary finally speaks. “I wanted Walter to talk to you himself, but you know how he is.” Mary’s brother. “He means well, but he doesn’t know how to bring up uncomfortable matters. So he wants me to talk to you.”

Mary nods knowingly. Her heart is beating faster. Is Walter sick? Or is it something about the kids? One is apprenticing as an auto mechanic. One is halfway through college. They both visit their uncle fairly often.

“Mary, Walt saw Jim.” She looks down into her tea, idly stirs a spoon through what’s left of it. “Jim, your husband.”

Jim sees Walter at least once a week. Mary waits.

Mom’s hands are trembling fast now and the spoon clinks against the china. She puts her hands down on the table. Lowers her head and takes a deep breath.

“Jim was...apparently he was in the company of a redheaded woman.” Mom shudders. “In a green dress, he said. Quite lovely.”

Mary dips the edge of an almond biscuit into her Earl Grey. She sighs.

“Jim has a number of clients,” she reminds her mother. “Many are women. Single, widowed, wealthy, young, the whole gamut.”

“Well, Walter says this was different,” Mom says. “It was over in Springfield. Walt was there for a conference. Jim had his arm around the woman, and she was hanging off him, obviously infatuated.” She coughs. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. I always liked Jim and thought you had a good marriage.”

A dull ache starts at Mary’s forehead. She tries to brush it aside, and to brush past her mother’s words. “I wouldn’t worry about it, Mom. I’m sure it wasn’t the way it looked.”

In Mary’s mind, it looks like Christine Callaghan. Curly, curvy, covered in gorgeous freckles. From head to toe, Mary knows. She hides a small smile.

“I’ll talk to Walt. And to Jim. Don’t worry.”

Good grief. Looks like the cat is out of the bag. They have tried to be so careful all these years.

Lorette C. Luzajic
Issue 23 (April 2024)

reads, writes, publishes, edits, and teaches flash fiction and prose poetry. Her own fiction and prose poems have appeared in Ghost Parachute, The Disappointed Housewife, Bending Genres, Unbroken, Trampset, The Citron Review, Flash Boulevard, New Flash Fiction Review, and beyond. Her works have been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart, Best Microfiction, and The Best Small Fictions. She won first place in a flash contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly. The author of four collections of small fictions and/or prose poems, The Rope Artist, The Neon Rosary, Pretty Time Machine, and Winter in June, she has also acted as judge for the Tom Park Poetry Prize.

Lorette is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to literature inspired by visual art. Her journal’s first print anthology, The Memory Palace, co-edited with Clare MacQueen, was released in March 2024. Lorette is also the founding editor of The Mackinaw, a journal of prose poetry, which debuted on 15 January 2024.

In addition, she’s an award-winning neoexpressionist artist who works with collage and mixed media to create urban, abstract, pop, and surreal works. She has collectors in thirty countries so far. She is also passionately curious about art history, folk horror, ancient civilizations, artisan and tribal jewelry, and culinary lore, to name a few.

Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca

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