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The Potato Problem

by Ryan T. Jenkins



Ronnie’s vision of a burning house started with the potatoes.


Or at least the remembrance of the potatoes in the oven, something that didn’t occur to her until halfway through a family dinner at Smackey’s, a local Italian-American fusion restaurant. Their small family of three had gathered for the first time in a while, for no reason at all other than at Ronnie’s insistence that the family stay in touch (texting was not “staying in touch”). As tended to happen with these meet-up dinners, Ronnie would get increasingly on-edge about what new thing she might discover about her daughter, Tammy, in the six months since she’d last seen her. Ronnie was preparing herself for anything: for Pete’s sake, it wasn’t that long ago Tammy had gotten thirty tattoos in a six-month period.


When she and her husband, Leonard, got to the restaurant, Tammy was already seated and waiting.


“She’s early,” Leonard shock-whispered to Ronnie. “Can you believe it?”


And surprisingly, Tammy appeared “normal” at first glance. There was a glow to her cheeks without question, meaning she wasn’t going through another bout of pill abuse. Her hair was grown out and not dyed. Since Tammy had turned fourteen, her hair had had a Homeric journey all its own: from spiky pink, to a purple mohawk, to shaved entirely. Last time they’d seen her, it was jet-black with silver highlights.


But not tonight. Her hair was dyed a chestnut brown and done up in a bun. If it weren’t for the tattoo sleeve on her left arm, she would still be Ronnie’s cute little Tam Tam.


By the time Ronnie had finished her first glass of house wine, she was feeling optimistic about the evening. It didn’t hurt that the pepper jack breadsticks were delicious, buttery and garlicky and creamy inside, and the conversation was gliding along at a steady pace. 


Tammy did reveal she had taken on a new hobby—boxing. She even flexed her arm to show the beginnings of a bicep. Ronnie and Leonard were pleased. They would have gladly taken boxing over her other disturbing hobbies, like in her first semester in college when she’d gone through a “body suspension” phase. Ronnie had nearly fainted when she’d googled the phrase for the first time. 


Once the ranch-battered calamari was out on the table, Tammy announced her new job at a marketing consulting firm. Ronnie hadn’t seen her husband’s face light up so much since Tammy was six and made him a birdhouse as a Father’s Day gift.


A real job? she thought. It seems too good to be true.


“I, of course, will continue with my Crooked Bitch channel, but the marketing job will be, you know, a fallback.”


“Excuse me?” Ronnie said.


“Oh, I’m influencing on the side. My channel is called Crooked Bitch, where I talk about alt lifestyles and shit. I got three hundred views for a single video last month.”


“That’s wonderful,” Leonard said, as if his own daughter did not just claim she was known on the internet as Crooked Bitch. Ronnie kept her cool, and instead focused on the positive here.


Marketing job, marketing job, marketing job, she repeated to herself.


“You don’t make any money doing that, though, isn’t that right?” Ronnie said, stabbing her fork into a piece of calamari with a tad bit too much gusto.


“It’s not about that, Mom,” she said, dismissing her with a wave of chestnut hair.


It was right about then, just as the waiter arrived and began grinding black pepper onto Leonard’s buffalo chicken linguini, that the thought came faster and more abruptly than a poison dart.


The potatoes.


“Oh no,” she moaned, interrupting Tammy and Leonard. 


They turned toward her, and she fumbled with her words. They waited patiently for her to spit it out.


“The potatoes,” she said. “I put two potatoes into the oven tonight and forgot about them until now.”


Leonard covered his face with his hand. “Not again.”


“Not again?” Tammy asked.


Leonard’s ears reddened. “This is the third time this month. Your mom keeps putting potatoes in the oven and forgetting about them. Why in the world would you put two potatoes in the oven tonight? You knew we were eating out.”


 “I don’t know why I did it, Lenny, but I did it. I put two potatoes in the oven and turned it to four hundred and fifty degrees.”


“How long has it been?” Leonard said, performing one of his Shakespearian-level sighs.


“Black pepper on your dish, ma’am?” the waiter asked Tammy.


“I’m not your ma’am. It’s Mx. And yes, pile on the black pepper, beautiful.”


“I think I put them in at, I don’t know, three o’clock.”


“Keep going,” Tammy said to the waiter.


Leonard looked at his watch. “Four and a half hours-ish . . .”


“I need to go back.”


Tammy raised her hand. “You can stop there. Thanks.” The waiter scurried away. “Who cares? It’s two potatoes,” she said, digging into her bacon-cheeseburger lasagna.


“I can’t burn the house down because of two potatoes, Tam,” Ronnie snapped.


Leonard stood up, his cloth napkin falling to the floor. “I’ll go check,” he mumbled. “Give me the keys.”


He took the car keys from her and left the restaurant.


Ronnie watched him go, trying not to feel too bad about it. After all, he was accustomed to her giving him tasks because of her anxiety. The recent “potato problem” was really only the tip of the iceberg when you took a birds-eye view of the relationship.


He’ll be fine. It only takes ten minutes to drive home, she thought.


#


After Tammy had devoured her Boston cream cannoli, and a solid hour had passed by since they’d seen Leonard—their conversation about failed pop stars and the unmistakable corpse smell in Tammy’s apartment now evaporating—Ronnie knew something was up. She called Leonard’s phone several times, but he wasn’t picking up.


“You think something happened?” Tammy asked.


“I don’t know what to do. Should we call the police?”


“No, no. Definitely not.”


Of course, it would be like Leonard to go check on the two potatoes she inadvertently put in the oven, only to die in a car wreck—or worse: he finds the house on fire and goes inside to save some belongings and never comes out. 


“Okay, then. Let me order an Uber,” Ronnie said. “We’ll go home together, and I can drop you off at the train station later.”


“No, don’t do Uber. I’ll text Mastiff.”


“Come again?”


Tammy held up a finger with one hand while with the other texted away on her smartphone’s cracked screen.


Ronnie paid the bill, and when they got outside, Mastiff was already waiting for them, leaning against a sparkling candy-apple-red Range Rover. When Ronnie heard the name “Mastiff,” she conjured up the absolute nastiest image of a man she could in her mind’s eye. Ex-convict, shaved head, a face tattoo, nose piercings. The man in her imagination even had a face like a dog. But Mastiff wasn’t anything like that. Mastiff wasn’t even a man. She was a well-dressed woman wearing men’s clothes, or what Ronnie thought to be men’s clothes based upon the suit jacket, slacks, necktie, and loafers. In fact, the loafers looked to be the same kind Leonard wore to his financial-planning job. And if Ronnie was being honest with herself, Mastiff pulled them off way better than her husband.


“Come on in!” Mastiff said, opening the back door like a limo driver. Ronnie scooted in first and then came Tammy, but not before giving Mastiff a long kiss on the lips. Ronnie averted her eyes. It was a part of Tammy’s life that Ronnie had refused to butt into—thanks to her own parents’ oppressive preoccupation about her sex life growing up. She’d remained steadfast to this goal even after Tam Tam had announced when she was sixteen that she was “pan,” which Leonard had gotten confused with the alternative definition of “pan,” meaning “to criticize,” so he had wholeheartedly supported her “panning sexual” lifestyle quite a bit. The whole preferred pronouns debacle, however, went in one ear and out the other for both Leonard and Ronnie—sometimes they, sometimes she, according to Tammy. So, she, it was.


“I love you for showing up,” Tammy said quietly to Mastiff. Ronnie pretended to not hear. She needed to feign that this situation was entirely normal—a performance that she hoped would gain respect from her daughter—but internally, she was confused beyond belief on what was happening here.


Who was Mastiff? Was Mastiff a—? She cut herself off, thinking more about it. She had to focus on the issue at hand: those potatoes in the oven and the possible, or probable, death of her husband.


When Mastiff pulled up to their house, nothing was amiss, except for one huge detail. Their car, the one Leonard had been driving, was not in the driveway, meaning that Leonard most likely got into a car accident, either to or fro Smackey’s. 


And if not a car accident, then what?


Abduction? 


Cross that bridge when we get to it, thought Ronnie. 


Mastiff and Tammy waited outside in the car while Ronnie booked it inside. Through the unlocked front door, she was met with a smoky atmosphere and an overpowering stench of burnt potatoes. She rushed to the kitchen to find the oven off and the baking sheet of potatoes on the stovetop. Except there was only one charred potato, instead of the two she knew she’d put into the oven.


She stared at the single potato and watched as little wisps of smoke curled around it, concluding that Leonard, or most likely Leonard, took the potatoes out of the oven, nabbed one for himself for some stupid reason, and departed, seemingly mere minutes ago, considering the potato’s still-scalding temperature. Using a paper towel, she picked up the remaining potato and tossed it into the trash with a little grunt.


She then ran back out to the Range Rover. Tammy was now sitting in the passenger seat next to Mastiff and rubbing her hand gently.


Ronnie, out of breath, explained the situation to them, and Mastiff shook her head. Ronnie could make out a perplexed expression on Mastiff’s face in the rearview.


“It doesn’t make sense,” Mastiff said. “There’s only one way to get to Smackey’s. There were no wrecks that I saw on our way over.”


Tammy swatted playfully at Mastiff. “It’s my dad. He probably got distracted by something.”


“Then why isn’t he answering his phone?” Ronnie asked.


“Dad never answers his phone, does he?”


Ronnie wanted to respond, but couldn’t. Because Tammy had a point. But the whole situation was chafing her. Yes, Leonard was inept with phones, but he was never bad about showing up to family dinners.


“So, what do we do?” she asked the two passengers up front, both of who seemed a thousand-fold less concerned than she did.


“Don’t worry, Mrs. Taylor. I will drive around.”


#


The sun was setting, darkness creeping in, as they drove around the area for a solid hour in search of a pollen-covered blue Honda SUV. To Ronnie’s, and Mastiff’s, surprise, there were multiple side routes to and fro Smackey’s—not just the one road. These were not routes anybody in their right mind would take, Ronnie thought, particularly somebody as levelheaded as Leonard. Convoluted and nonsensical forays into side neighborhoods and down side streets that turned you in circles. Ronnie was shocked to see most of these places existed, despite living in the area for twenty-three years.


Ronnie had mentioned the police at least a dozen times, but Tammy always waved it off. 


“You would be wasting your time, Mom. There’s no evidence that Dad is missing. He would need to be gone for more than two days for you to file a police report.”


Ronnie felt herself white-knuckle her purse strap. Tammy always found a way to diminish her concern . . . just like when Tam was thirteen or fourteen. She’d been a real piece of hormonal teenage work then. Hopelessly emotional and erratic. Ronnie had always prayed those days would end, but it didn’t feel this way. 


This time, when Ronnie looked over at her daughter, she was not happy to see this “normalized” Tammy. At least with the spiked and dyed hair, she professed her dysfunctional spirit. Now, she was just a— Ronnie had a word in mind, but couldn’t bear to think it.


“You can take me home, then, Mastiff, if you don’t mind. Hopefully, he’ll show up at some . . .” Ronnie trailed off.


Mastiff shot her a pleasant smirk in the rearview and nodded.


“Wait, isn’t that your car, Mom?” Tammy said.


Sure enough, it was the Honda, parked in a driveway in a house that she was not familiar with.


“Oh my god, it is!” Ronnie belted out, and Mastiff braked suddenly, pulling to the curb.


Ronnie placed a couple twenties in the cup holder—a little surprise for Mastiff when she was cleaning out the backseat—and got out. Some words were exchanged between Mastiff and Tammy, including another brief kiss. And then Mastiff left. Ronnie wasn’t sure that was the best idea, but she didn’t raise the issue. Ronnie and Tammy walked up the driveway toward a house not too different from their own—a white two-story house with green shutters and a fairly well-maintained garden. 


“You don’t think Dad is having an affair, do you?” Tammy asked.


“Stop it.”


“What? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.”


“Chances are higher that your father is having an affair with that burnt potato than a woman.”


“Oh, Mom. You see what you want to see.”


“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ronnie snapped at her.


“No need to bite my head off.”


“I’m sorry. But I’m a little . . . freaked out. And you’re acting like it’s not a big deal that your father is a missing person.”


“The car is right here. He’s not a missing person.”


“You know what I mean. I’m sure he’s already been dismembered at this point, and we’re casually walking right up to the front door.” 


“Oh my god, Mom. You totally underestimate Dad’s ability to lose his mind sometimes.”


“When have you ever seen your father lose his mind?”


“When I was in high school. Remember that time he drove to Miami?”


“He bought a boat from a guy on Craiglist.”


“It was still insane. He got up in the middle of the night and just drove there.”


“Well, I know you live on the wild side of life, but this is not something your father would do during a family dinner.”


Tammy’s bicep twitched and she glared at her mother. “Wild side? What’s that supposed to mean,” she said, mocking Ronnie’s voice, showering her with her own rudeness.


“This is unusual for your dad!”


“Dad is a moron!”


“Tammy Lou.”


“Don’t call me that. I hate that fucking name.”


“And don’t say the F-word to your mother!”


“I’m a fucking adult.”


“Are you?”


A pall of silence fell over their conversation, and Ronnie was already scolding herself. She blew it. Just like that. That’s all it took for your daughter to write you off. There goes acceptance swirling down the drain. The night was officially ruined. 


Tammy rang the doorbell, which spooked Ronnie. She found it a little aggressive. A polite knock was all it took, but she kept this to herself.


The door opened, and an elderly lady stuck her head out.


“Can I help you?”


“We’re here to see Leonard. Is he here?”


“One moment.”


The lady popped her head back in and shut the door.


“What the fuck is going on?” Tammy said.


“Please cool it, Tam. With the F-word.”


“Seriously. Do you have any idea what’s going on?”


“Let’s wait until we talk to him.” Ronnie dug through her purse, always a mess, and produced a makeup mirror. She remembered hearing on Oxygen that if attacked and weapon-less, a fast smash to somebody’s face with a makeup mirror could cause serious damage.


“Assuming he’s not dismembered . . .” Tammy added sarcastically.


There were footsteps again, and the door cracked open.


“Right this way,” the lady said, ushering them into the living room. 


The house’s interior threw Ronnie for a loop. The décor was positively outlandish. First it was the birds. A dozen birds or more in individual cages, hanging from various surfaces. One was hanging from a doorknob. Another from a window frame. One was even hanging from a stained-glass chandelier.


And if that were not all, the color scheme of the house brought a whole new meaning to the word “lively.” Pink floral wallpaper, a yolk-yellow couch, a long sea-green sequin curtain separating the living room from the rest of the house. And smatterings of bright orange and jasmine purple in artwork, rugs, and an assortment of other decorative items.


“This house is incredible,” commented Tammy. 


This house is hideous, thought Ronnie.


“Sit down, would you?” the lady croaked and disappeared through the curtain.


Ronnie sat on a sofa chair covered with itty-bitty pictures of pine cones. Tammy positioned herself onto the yellow couch, scooting forward and opening a porcelain candy dish on an antique coffee table with legs carved into storks.


“What are you doing?” Ronnie whispered.


“Getting a piece of candy.”


“Don’t do that. It might be poisoned.”


Tammy gave her an eye roll. “It’s all shitty hard candy, anyway.”


Ronnie sighed as Tammy crinkled a wrapper and popped out a candy, slipping it in her mouth.


“You want one?” Tammy asked. “It’s actually delicious.”


Ronnie swatted her hand at her. “Stop it.”


Tammy glared at her and was about to speak when they heard a floorboard creak and the lady reentered through the curtain.


“He’s gonna be a minute. He’s getting ready.”


“Getting ready . . . for what?” Ronnie asked.


“His performance. Just be patient,” the lady bristled.


“Ahem, I’m sorry, but what is my husband doing here? My name is Ronnie by the way. This is Tamara.”


“It’s Tammy. I love your setup here.”


The lady sunk into a red-velvet plush chair. She frowned at Tammy as if she were a flesh-eating bacteria and turned back to Ronnie. “My name is Miss Carnation. I’m Leonard’s guidepost. He is quite frazzled by you. After the whole potato incident. I told him that if he was feeling angry, that it would be better if he performed. So he’s getting ready.”


Ronnie’s jaw fell slack. The only explanation Ronnie could form in her muddled mind was that they were at the wrong house. And that there was another man here who happened to be named Leonard who happened to have the same model car as they did, whose wife happened to burn two potatoes at precisely the same time as she had.


Implausible, but more logical than what she was experiencing at the moment.


“Can I hold one of your parrots?” Tammy asked.


Miss Carnation readjusted herself. “Only Francois would allow that, and he’s not permitted out of his cage after seven o’clock. The nighttime makes him skittish.”


“Aw, too bad. They are beautiful, though. I love the yellow one.”


“Dumas might be pretty, but he would peck your eyes out in a heartbeat.”


Tammy giggled, and Ronnie, as she observed her daughter, couldn’t help thinking: Was she herself being punished? She’d expressed to Leonard early on, when they’d first had Tammy, that they needed to take her to church every Sunday. For structure, Ronnie had argued, but Leonard had adamantly refused.


She must decide those things on her own time, he’d said, and shortly thereafter he stopped going to church with Ronnie, who, for the subsequent twelve years, attended Mass by herself.


Now, look at them, she thought. 


I should have fought harder. 


Or had that second kid, at the very least.


She pushed the thoughts away and said, “Excuse me, but if I may ask, what is a guidepost?”


Miss Carnation seemed perturbed. “I told you. I’m the guidepost.”


“So, you are a . . . ? Like a counselor?”


“His haven. Sanctuary. Refuge. I don’t know how else to dumb it down. Am I speaking in Greek?”


Tammy shrugged. “It makes sense to me.”


Ronnie felt her blood turn to magma and in fact she had a fast-passing vision of dedicating the next year of her life to learning how to kickbox so she could kick her own daughter’s teeth in. Maybe that would straighten out her blasé attitude. But, in the snap of a finger—as parenting typically went—her anger cooled off as she looked back over at Tam Tam, watching her daughter’s bright expressive eyes exploring the visual feast around her, recalling the little girl who used to giggle uproariously when her mama tickled her neck.


There were footsteps from beyond the curtain. Leonard’s tall stride. Ronnie could tell by the pauses in between the thumps. Ronnie straightened herself in her chair and held her breath. What was going to come through that curtain? Her husband, or a different man altogether? A Leonard who was not Leonard.


The lights dimmed, and a spotlight from the ceiling turned on, washing the living room in a soft whiteness.


It was only until this moment that Ronnie realized that all the furniture was angled toward the sequin curtain. Miss Carnation stood up and pulled a string off to the side, which opened the curtain to reveal Leonard, her husband, sitting at an old, wooden piano. 


His hair was slicked back, and he had on nicer clothes. A crisp navy blue jacket and black khakis.


His shaky fingers hovered over the piano keys as he waited for the sequin curtain to fully open. And once it did, and once Miss Carnation cozied back into her spot, Leonard’s fingers fell, and the piano shrieked to sound, first with a discordant clatter, followed by a dark, moody chord progression. An E-minor to a C-minor, and then back again, if Ronnie’s choir days served her memory correctly. Regardless, he played these same chords over and over, and just as Ronnie was getting bored, he slammed his hands down on the keys hard, causing Ronnie to jump a little. He paused, and then his fingers fell again, picking up considerable pace, flying across the keys. An up-and-down melody that lifted her high into joy and low into despair in a matter of seconds. Ronnie found herself riveted all the sudden, but also pissed off all the same. When did he learn to do all this? They didn’t have a piano at home, to her knowledge.


Ronnie had been so fixated on Leonard’s hands that she entirely missed what was resting atop the piano and where Leonard was now staring with determined focus.


The other charred potato.


That bastard, she thought and even felt her teeth begin to dig into her tongue.

By the last few measures of the song, his fingers were moving faster than a stenographer’s. It reminded her of that prodigy kid on Ellen the other day who learned Beethoven by three years old. 


And as much as Ronnie was dumbfounded, she was nearly drowning in fury. Was this really her dud of a husband sitting at this piano? The one who listened to a police scanner for fun? And whose favorite card game was Solitaire? Was she witnessing a secret life coming to light—an affair with the “wild side,” aka Miss Carnation? 


It was something she would have never known about him, if it hadn’t been for her potato problem. It all could have remained Leonard’s secret, which, of course, could allow Ronnie to maintain her own secrets. A functioning, healthy marriage, in other words.


He ended the song with a slide down the keys and a dramatic upward turn of the head. Immediately, Tammy shot up out of her chair whooping and cheering and crying.


You’ve got to be kidding, Ronnie thought. Crying, really?


Miss Carnation, too, missiled out of her chair, as much as an eighty-year-old-plus woman can with her stymied stamina, smacking her brittle hands back and forth.


Ronnie kept her ass firmly in the seat, though, refusing to stand and clap, crossing her arms instead. Leonard who was bowing like a toothless chimpanzee froze when he saw Ronnie glaring at him. His lips fell into a taut line.


Miss Carnation noticed the mood change first and stopped clapping while Tammy continued to clap away for a few more seconds. Then she, too, spotted her mom’s glowering and went silent, wiping away the tears from her cheeks.


“What do you think you are doing, Leonard?” Ronnie said.


He didn’t respond. Tammy and Miss Carnation, and even her birds, were also quiet. 


Ronnie stood up and approached him.


“Why didn’t you come back to the restaurant?” she asked.


Still nothing out of him or anyone.


Ronnie continued. “Are you telling me that you got mad because you had to drive ten minutes home to shut the oven off?”


Leonard licked his lips. “Considering it’s the third time this month that you’ve tried to burn the house down—”


Ronnie gasped. “Burn the house down? Seriously? Burn the house down with potatoes?”


Leonard nodded sheepishly, rising from the piano bench. “Because, honey. I believe you are too scared to face that side of yourself.”


He plopped back down on the bench.


“Dad’s right,” Tammy cut in. “I agree it’s in you, too, Mom. And like, seriously, if you’re going to burn the house down, burn the fucking house down.”


“Shut up, Tamara—”


“It’s Tammy.”


Tammy. I was speaking, thank you very much, and I’ve had enough of your bratty privileged rudeness for one night. I’m very unhappy with you right now. The both of you, especially you.” She pointed at Leonard.


One by one, each bird woke and sensed the agitated vibes in the air. Miss Carnation did not move from her chair and instead rocked it back and forth, back and forth. There came a squawk from one bird, then a chirp from another, then another squawk, and another chirp, until it was nothing but clattering birdsong. Ronnie had to scream to have her voice heard.


“You are both coming home tonight, and we are going to talk about this more! Get up, 

Leonard, and take off that hideous jacket! It doesn’t fit you! And Miss Carnation, sorry to burst your guidepost bubble, but you won’t be seeing Leonard anytime soon! Get up, Lenny! Come on! Up, up, up!”


The birds’ clamors continued until they nearly drowned Ronnie out entirely. 


“I’m serious! We’re leaving!”


Finally, she gave up screaming and tugged on Leonard’s shirt. He reluctantly stood up. Ronnie shooed Tammy toward the door, and it wasn’t long before they were back into the night air, the birdsong far away and the crickets the new soundtrack.


Leonard went to get into the driver’s seat and Ronnie blocked him, swiping the keys from his hands.


“I’m driving,” she asserted, and Leonard waddled downtrodden over to the passenger side.


“I need to go to the train station,” Tammy said as they got in.


“You’re coming home tonight,” Ronnie said. “I don’t want you traveling this late.”


“It’s not even—”


“You’re coming home tonight, Tam. There’s no use arguing.”


Tammy just shook her head. Ronnie knew Tammy was too tired to fight back. Ronnie always won these late-night battles, ever since they had been fighting over whether to have extra ice cream after dinner. And Ronnie would win again tonight. To the death, if need be.


#


Later that night, as Ronnie and Leonard were lying in bed, with the lights off, Ronnie was the first to speak.


“Leonard . . . I hated seeing that. I hated seeing you running to Miss Carnation to hide away from me . . . I hated . . .”


“I know, I know,” he whimpered. “I hated it, too.”


“And you can’t really believe I have a ‘potato problem,’ do you? I mean, that’s just . . . ?”


“I can see clearer now, honey. It was stupid of me, I admit.” 


“And Miss Carnation. Do you see clearer on Miss Carnation?”


“I’m sorry. I went over there on a whim. I guess I, uh, lost control when I got home tonight and saw the smoke pouring out of the oven. I grabbed one of the spuds, nearly burning my hand, I was so mad. It really seemed . . . intentional this time. . . . But that’s stupid, of course . . . isn’t it?”


“Of course, it’s stupid, Lenny. I would laugh if I wasn’t so infuriated right now.”


He leaned over and kissed her on the lips, lying back down and falling right to sleep. The sensation of his kiss lingered, and it was strange—because in her mind, images flared into view. Of flames eating through the carpets and the curtains and the cabinets. Of thick billows of smoke pouring out the windows. Of the walls curling and the floorboards warping under the intense heat, until the house crumpled into one giant burning ember that glowed for a long, long time—until the foundation was nothing but a heap of smoldering black ash.


She couldn’t help but smile.



 


Ryan T. Jenkins (he/him) is a horror writer based in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and daughter. A former managing editor at Tor Books, he now runs his own freelancing business as a fiction copyeditor. His short stories have been published in the anthology We’re Infested!: Tales of Vermin, Insects, and Filth (edited by Alex Gonzalez), Wintermute, Twelve Winters, Dark Horses, and Abandon Journal. Learn more about his writing at ryantjenkins.com. 




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