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Instructions for Building Model Airplanes by Salvatore Zoida

Instructions for Building Model Airplanes by Salvatore Zoida

Fiction, Vol. 5.2, June 2011

“My daughter greets our dinner guests with a curtsy and a self-referential smile.”

“Before introducing herself as mildly schizophrenic.”

“You mean episodically.”

“To our dinner guests.”

“We have raised her to project certain things about herself.”

“There is an etiquette my parents taught me.”

“She is a darling girl.”

“The way he’s laughing right now, it’s what he does in front of our dinner guests.”

“She has my eyes.”

“Have you ever heard such laughter?”

“And crooked smile.”

“The two of them treating our dinner guests like that.”

“She smells of baby powder and bubble bath when I kiss her perfect brow.”

“Guests who have stood before bathroom mirrors and knotted ties and applied makeup and deliberated over perfume bottles, in earnest anticipation.”

“As I lean over her, she tells me I am too tall, that I will lose my balance and topple over.”

“The time she hid in the bathroom with a tape recorder as one of our guests aggressively relieved himself?”

“I watch her as she sleeps and try to approximate the speed at which love travels.”

“And then played everything back over our intercom system?”

“During the soup course.”

“The laughter again.”

“A fine vichyssoise.”

“Mortified is too mild a word.”

“She recorded him saying awful, hateful things about himself as he—”

“The sort of things that make people’s faces twitch.”

“Tape recorders function by way of a process that is enabled by simple magnetics.”

“About which I speak from personal experience.”

“Everyone continued eating their soup, pretending not to hear, or listen.”

“It got so bad I had to excuse myself.”

“The tape recorder was a present, from me.”

“I found her at the intercom console, eating peanut butter out of the jar, as if the only thing happening at that moment was her eating peanut butter out of a jar.”

“It uses those mini cassette tapes, the ones whose smallness, in your hand, gives you the illusion that you’re much larger than you really are.”

“She told me that our dinner guest needed to hear himself, that his virulent self-abuse required the kind of attention which trumps considerations of politeness.”

“I jokingly made a historical reference as she opened the box.”

“Was it any wonder then that I failed to reprimand her for eating peanut butter out of the jar?”

“‘I am not a crook,’ she said into the tape recorder, in response, shaking her head in that exaggerated, cheek-slackened way, and then playing the recording back as we both laughed.”

“Or that I momentarily forgot I was entertaining guests?”

“And when you returned, carrying a tray of cocktails with whimsical garnishes, you cast aspersions on those gangsta rappers and their explicit song lyrics.”

“Making everyone laugh.”

“Almost everyone.”

“And the soup bowls?”

“They were all empty.”

“Except mine.”

“Except yours.”

“—”

“—”

“Supersonic.”

“Yes, I believe you are right.”

“Yes.”

“Your eyes.”

“And yours, as well.”

“Yes.”

“Are we done?”

Pupa by Joe P. Squance

Precipitating Factors by Salvatore Zoida

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