She’d just sigh and say she would pray extra hard to win the lottery.

Today's Story


Carolina Tan

By Anthony Marshall

In the south it was summer eight months a year. The grass just kept growing and growing. After fifty hours a week at work, I would spend my Saturday cutting the lawn and Sunday cutting my mother in law’s lawn. Every week it was the same. My wife and I had long discussions about being stuck in a rut. She said we needed a vacation but we couldn’t afford it since my job didn’t offer paid vacations. So she’d just sigh and say she would pray extra hard to win the lottery.

I wake up, shower go to work. The same routine at the office every day. Same Atlanta Bread lunch. Come home, eat and watch reality television. The people on those shows seemed far more alive than I was. I couldn’t stand it. Generally speaking, hamsters as pets cannot be played with like a dog for instance. I hated those shows that so engrossed my wife that I even tried to teach my hamster, Cypher, to fetch. It didn’t work. I just watched him stuff his cheeks, build his nest or spin his wheel.

My wife said God told her in a dream that we go to this old timey carnival downtown to break the monotony. I wasn’t so happy about it. I hate people. We sat on the ugly, paint chipped horses of the carousel going round and round. She was giddy and loved every second of it. She was so busy pointing out the freaks, the man on stilts, the local weather man’s son dressed up like a clown and the children in masks and face paint. She talked on and on about it while my mind wandered. It was Saturday and I already had put off doing our lawn and tomorrow, on my last day off, would have to do ours and the mother in law’s. I don’t know if it was the sugar on the elephant ears or the constant spinning but I was feeling nauseous. We left but not before Ann paid five dollars to take a picture with a wax Yoda. She wanted me to join her but it all seemed stupid and pointless to take a picture with a fictional character.

It was in the low 90s that day. Ann’s mom was telling me how some of the neighbors walked up and down the street with a ruler to make sure no one’s grass grew longer than six inches or they would call the police. I told her that life was full of stupid rules enforced by stupid people. Walking out to the shed to pull out the lawn mower had already caused me to break out in a sweat. I avoided the sun at all times but figured by next weekend I should have a nice Carolina Tan on my face. I opened up the doors and stared at the lawnmower. The only thing I wanted to rest before going back to work tomorrow. I stared at the lawn mower. In six days it would need to be cut again and again and again. I took a deep breath, wiping the sweat from my brow. Walking up and down the rows of mowed grass alone I liked to wonder about the existence of God. Not this time.


Anthony Marshall drinks and fucks in Columbia, SC. His fiction is forthcoming in Dogzplot and Short Fast and Deadly.


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