Can You Light a Candy Cigarette on Fire?
After Sally Mann
Angel flipped her hair up and down between her legs like she was trying to get some of the water out even though she ain't washed it in a week. She'd been adding a capful of water to her generic horse shampoo, the kind that's supposed to make your hair lustrous like the women on Star Search but the concoction had become more water than soap at that point. With contempt turning up like silt, Angel shouted at her older brother, "When Mama comes to, she's like to beat your butt with one of them stilts." Her cousin Sadie was staying with them for the summer after her daddy's accident on the job. Sadie's Mama said she couldn't stomach no more of what God gave her no matter what other folks say so she dropped her off with a satchel full of rolled coins and exactly two dresses that fit. Angel soaked their favorites in the sink with baking soda and barely warm water on Sundays so today her cousin was wearing one of hers, the one with smocking and greenery embroidered at the waist. It had fit Angel two summers ago but it hung loose on Sadie like her shoulders might not never grow big enough to hold anything. Her brother could fend for himself as far as she was concerned. He'd had the good sense to be born a boy. She brushed Sadie's curls with her fingers as best she could, took the rubber band from around her wrist and fussed with her hair until she had it pulled up off her neck. "There, that's better. Don't that feel better, Sadie?" Sadie nodded and put her hands on her hips. "Say, you got any smokes left in that pack?"
is the author of Deadheading & Other Stories
(2021), Winner of the 2019 Red Hen Press Women's Prose Prize. She is also the author of I Am Barbarella: Stories
(2015) from Twelve Winters Press and No Man's Wild Laura
(2016) from Hyacinth Girl Press. Born and raised in the Charlotte area, she recently relocated to Louisville where she lives and writes in an ornery old shotgun house. She also lives with C-PTSD and is quite vocal about ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.