Linguistics by Kelly Pedro

The word of the day is chartreuse, a variable color averaging a brilliant yellow green. Origin: Once Latin, now French. Used in a sentence: Elyse knew why the chartreuse sweater was on clearance—the threads were starting to fray, and it clearly wasn’t well made, but Elyse bought it anyway because she found something about it charming.

The word of the day is bdellium, a gum resin that comes from various trees of the genus Commiphora. Origin: Greek, then Latin, now English. Used in a sentence: On our first vacation we visited a forest, not a real forest, but one they put together for the tourists, a mirage forest where a guide told us about the bdellium that leaks from the Commiphora trees that’s supposed to heal wounds, fractures and arthritis, and we joked that we should bottle it, save it to slather on our fingers when we’re older, and later when the guide brought us to a tree to carve our initials into the bark, the gum stuck to your fingers, but not mine, it stuck to the arm hair on your wrist, and you pressed the pads of your fingers together to show me how sticky they were and asked if I thought they’d peel off your fingerprints and leave your skin bald.

The word of the day is pogonip, a dense winter fog containing frozen particles formed in deep mountain valleys in the western United States. Origin: Paiute. Used in a sentence: Elyse wanted to pack her chartreuse sweater when she and Danial went camping, but Danial thought it was foolish to use precious packing space for a sweater when it was so simmering they couldn’t even walk the garbage to the curb in bare feet, but Elyse packed the sweater anyway, then asked Danial if he would hold her books in his pack cause there wasn’t any room left in hers and he refused so Elyse tucked the books—Medicine Walk and Embers—into the waistband of her tearaway khakis while they hiked to the campsite in the valley, and when she woke the next morning, a pogonip had shrouded the campsite, and she couldn’t find Danial, but she could find her books and she could find her chartreuse sweater, which, when she unpacked and put on, was all that she needed.

Kelly Pedro’s fiction has appeared in PRISM and The New Quarterly and is forthcoming in Cleaver and Archetype Literary. She was short listed for Room’s 2022 fiction contest. She’s currently revising a collection of linked short stories and lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada located on the Haldimand Tract within the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbek, and Haudenosaunee peoples. Find her on Twitter at @KellyPatLarge.

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