Stirring : A Literary Collection

Sandy Steinman


She lied. Just yesterday Selma swore to Grandma Rose that she'd never again disturb Gordon, her dead turtle. Yet, that night, same as the many nights before, she had tiptoed silently downstairs in the dark while everyone in the household was in bed, and dug him up again. He was still there. It was exactly two weeks ago that Selma's brother, three year old Alexander, had soaped, and bathed poor Gordon in a sink of scalding water.

When Grandma Rose heard that Selma'd dug him up again, she whomped her bottom
and sent her to stand in the corner of her bedroom for one whole hour.

Grandma Rose said she was bad. "You have made God very angry," she warned Selma, "and you mustn't  ever offend the Almighty."

"But I just wanted another peek, Grandma," she protested. "I wanted to know what God was going to do with Gordon or if he took him away to heaven yet."

"God has commanded that we mustn't desecrate the graves of the dead. It is a sin."

Standing pigeon-toed in the corner of her bedroom, Selma was uncommonly irritated. It was then and there that she decided to poison Stanley Rosenblatt, her betrayer, and former best friend.

She'd trusted Stanley. She'd told him it was a secret that she dug up poor Gordon. She'd even showed him Gordon and made him swear he wouldn't tell. But Stanley broke his word and told Grandma Rose.

Why had he snitched on her? She would never have confided in him except he agreed it was to be their secret. Yet earlier that afternoon, to Selma's astonishment he marched up the creaky steps to the back porch, where Grandmother Rose sat folding clothes.

"Mrs. Kaplan," he'd screeched, in his high soprano, "Selma is a liar. She's gone and dug Gordon up again."

"I'm going to kill Stanley," Selma whispered to no one, standing there in the corner, "I'll give him cherry colored crayons to eat. It'll make him sick and he'll die. He'll be sorry he told."

"But wait a minute," she thought, "that won't do." Selma remembered that Stanley colored beautifully with crayons in his book of flowers, even staying inside the lines. "He'd know better than to eat crayons."

"Besides,"she thought, "if I kill Stanley, I'll have no one to play with."She and Stanley played kick the can on summer afternoons. "Maybe I'll just wallop him with a brick."

"Not a hard brick, though," she thought. "It might break his head. Maybe I'll just punch him in the arm. Very gently.  

"Or maybe I won't share my tootsie rolls.

"Or tell him my secrets," she pondered. "That's it," Selma smiled, "I won't
tell him my secrets. He'll be sorry."

Selma's scabby knees itched that night, resting on the cool ground as her small fingers again unearthed Gordon from his tiny grave below the forsythia near the splintery sand box and the swings.

Gordon's fluted shell was still intact, though he was beginning to smell funny. His head lolled on her index finger with its torn nail. She stroked him, same as every night since she'd placed him there in the soil, still wondering when God would take him away or change him into somebody else.

Location: Fairfax, California
Publications: Amarillo Bay, Big Bridge, Stark Raving Sanity, The Shallow End, Manx Fiction, Doorknobs and Bodypaint, Pulse, etc.
Awards: Second place at the Dominican University Short Play Festival, "Best in Show" for Creative Writing at the Marin County Fair

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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