Tender Cuts

by Jayne Martin

Karma_filterJulie-Sue’s hair cascades in golden ringlets past her tiny shoulders, falling near her tightly-corseted waist. The corset pinches her skin, but Mama says to keep smiling so she does. The “Little Miss Soybean Pageant” pays $150 to the winner and Mama says they need the money. 

Next to the stage, the stench of livestock rises from a pen where the 4-H animals await their turn at auction. Flies swarm in the summer heat and Julie-Sue bats them away from her face.

“Stop your fussing,” Mama scolds.

She will dance the Can Can just like she’s been taught. She wanted to twirl a baton like Becky or sing a song like Bonnie-Jean. She doesn’t like raising her skirt up and showing her panties, but Mama says she has nice legs and she should use what the good Lord gave her.

The auctioneer’s voice rises and cheers explode from the nearby tent. Someone’s prize heifer sells for a thousand dollars.  

Her music starts and Mama pushes her onto the stage. She will kick as high as she can.

Jayne Martin is the 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, Midwestern Gothic, f(r)iction, Blink-Ink, Spelk, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” She lives in Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin. Website: Jayne Martin-Author

Photograph by Lesley C. Weston

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