Yellow Mama Archives II

Lucinda Kempe

Acuff, Gale
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Allen, R. A.
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Zumpe, Lee Clark

Stand in Line


by Lucinda Kempe



Swift. Using his hands for forward propulsion, John Jacob Jingelheimer Schmidt scooted in a full lotus across the floor. He could almost taste his mother’s petit fours on top of the table. So, he did what he always did when he had to wait; he stared up at her 18th century damask tablecloth, fantasizing. The embroidered cloth depicted a sunny garden awash with cat mint, anise hyssop, bee balm blossoms, and neatly tucked in amongst the lush, a bat-eared Fennec fox lounging around.

The artist’s illusion of the Fennec fox in the English garden distracted John from his impediment. He loved the fabulist intent and had studied about the flora and fauna. The Fennec fox, Otocyon megalotis, were nocturnal and lived in the African savannah and not in an English garden. The aroma of the fondant-covered sweets returned him to the here and now. He tugged the tablecloth, but his mother had pinned its corners to keep it in place. He took off his bandana and wiped the drool from his hair lip and wished he was a normal boy who could stand, pull out his mother’s Victorian side chair, seat himself, and eat without chaos.   

He closed his kohl lashes, which he’d never seen because his mother kept him away from mirrors and repeated the hated phrase his elocution teacher made him say.  

“Stand in line long enough, you’ll be served.”

John opened his eyes to find a small fox looking down at him from the tabletop.  

“Where did you come from?” John asked, startled.

The fox jumped off the table causing some of the petit fours and a silver candlestick to clatter to the floor. John gobbled the sweets. The fox curled up near John’s feet. He thought of his mother’s reactions and waited for her to come home. The moment his mother arrived, she ran up to her son.

 “I don’t know what came over me,” he said, and began to cry. “I can’t stand. I will never be able to stand.”

His mother put the remaining sweets into a napkin and joined John on the floor. “Perhaps we should invite your teacher over and serve him lunch at eye level. We’ll wait for his reaction and if it’s not the one we like, then we’ll tell him to get to the back of the line.”

John was glad he had this mother. There were two petit fours left. His mother offered him one and he gave the last one to the fox who was happy to be out of an English garden and living with a real family.




Lucinda Kempe’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge, New South Journal, New World Writing, Midway Journal, Matter Press, The Southampton Review, and the Summerset Review. An excerpt from her memoir was short listed for the Fish Memoir Prize in April 2021. She lives on Long Island where she exorcises with words. 

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