Midnight, and Frank is burying spoons again. He doesn’t know I dig them up, hours later, after I’ve put him in bed with his pills and sippy cup, after I’ve checked under the bed for CIA agents, opened the closet door to show him no Russians are hiding there.
He still says they are. But at least I’ve made the effort.
We probably don’t need as many spoons as we have, so I don’t mind if some of them stay buried, but tonight he’s buried my favorite spoon. I know it’s ridiculous to have a favorite. It’s like having a favorite child, though we’re not supposed to have those either. If my children ask me I always tell them “I love all of you the same,” the way my mother told me.
I knew it wasn’t true. They knew it, too.
David was my favorite. The one I almost lost. Did lose, later, but got to keep for 32 years. The spoon Frank buried tonight was his spoon: the dark, tarnished one I always keep at the bottom of the spoon slot in the drawer, protected by all its spoon siblings. Like a story I once read about a circus fire, and a child who stayed safe in a nest of bodies that burned around her while the big top vanished in a tunnel of paraffin flame.
Frank found it, though. The spoon that’s shiny gray, almost black. OLD ENGLISH, the handle says. Two grooves on the back of the spoon’s curved bowl. When David was a little boy he always made me show him the back of the spoon, and he would laugh. He said it looked like a butt crack. And when he was sick and had to take medicine, that’s the spoon he would ask for: “I want the bum spoon, Mommy!”
Maybe I ought to have guessed some things about him then. But it was 1965. I knew nothing.
Maybe I didn’t wait long enough, because when I look up from digging Frank is standing over me. “We’ve got to keep them safe,” he says. “We can’t let anyone find them.”
Frank shuffles closer. His hand, when he reaches out to help me up from the grass, is surprisingly steady, and I think of how strong his hands were once, how he held me above his head at the beach, while David clapped and said “Daddy is Superman!”
“We need to keep this spoon safe inside,” I say. “It’s David’s spoon.”
Frank holds the spoon. His eyes reflect the moonlight, and nothing else. “Which one is David?” he asks.
Kathryn Kulpa is the author of a short story collection, Pleasant Drugs (Mid-List Press) and a flash fiction chapbook, Girls on Film (Paper Nautilus). Her work is published or forthcoming in Pidgeonholes, Smokelong Quarterly, and Superstition Review. Kathryn has been a visiting writer at Wheaton College, leads a veterans writing workshop at Barrington (RI) Public Library, and will lead a flash fiction workshop at Writefest Houston this summer. She goes in through the out door.