Morty by Gary Moshimer


Five floors up, Security Ed unlocks the window and out we soar, your Frozen sheet like a parachute, my hands clinging to your princess feet. This is how we get home from the hospital.

Not really, Dad drives us. Even though you are forty, your Frozen sheet twists to keep you warm. They removed your warmest parts.

We blast Billie Jean and Dad’s head grows and turns purple. He hates some things.

I made you lopsided cupcakes, but Dad has the fattened pig. “Tomorrow,” he says, tobacco mouth grinning, spitting. “Pig roast!”

The pig is on his hill in his grass in his pen getting fat. You my mother are thinner in my arms dancing resting dancing. “Today my cupcakes will fatten you!”

Dad says I am not a man for not wanting to kill the pig. “Your mother needs the meat.”

“She needs my cupcakes.”

“They are tumbling over,” he laughs.

Turns out she cannot eat my cupcakes. She says they are too sweet, they hurt her teeth.

“Then there is nothing. Look in the fridge. All I made were cupcakes.”

She curls on the sofa, measuring her bones. “I need the meat,” she says.

“No, I named him Morty. I won’t have him killed. I’ll go get some bologna.”

“No! That will bring the cancer back.”


Dad has poor circulation. His fingers on the hanging ropes and rifle are violet. Mine are bright red as they sneak open the gate and slap Morty’s rump. “Go Morty!” My mouth a blue-red O. Dad’s head is back to purple as Morty squeals down the driveway and across County Rte. 5.

I run into the house because I hear his gun click. You say, “In here.” We hide in the broom closet. Breast-less chests together. Yours had been big. We stop breathing. No shots; the truck roars off. We are thin as brooms with bristly hair. You start it, the Billie Jean dancing. Friction heating you, we laugh.

You are exhausted in there, we sleep standing up. Hours later, the truck pulls in, Morty captured, grunting softly in a defeated way. Through the slit we watch the ropes, hear the shot. We stay in there hugging, I hear your tummy rumbling like crazy.

“Let’s get you out of here,” I say, strapping you to my mini-bike and throwing the sheet around you. “Up the hill. Up and away.” My bike puffs its blue clouds.

On top of the mountain is a flat boulder, like a stage. The sun warms it. Way down there is our little house, smoke rising. Smoke of death. Soon there will be a line of cars coming, uncles and cousins and strange people all for you, the survivor.

I take your little hand and…

“One, two, three, four…Billie Jean…snot my lovah…”

But you run out of energy and get serious. “I have to go back. I’m starving, Honey.”

We skid back down the mountain. You want to pick wildflowers for the girls. I remember when you wore them in your hair. The day will return.

I leave you and run into the house, hiding under my bed. Cousins try to pry me out. They make fun of me sniffling. “Why aren’t you happy?” they crow. “It’s your mother.”

“It’s my pig!”


A friend of Becky’s, Mary, older and beautiful, talks me out. “He’s not on the spit anymore. And there are lots of salads, and maybe we can sneak some beer. And your mother looks so happy. You need to be out there with her.” She ruffles my sweaty hair, and I love her.

After she gets me a tiny Dixie cup of beer you are even more radiant, there in the sun, shoveling Morty in like you’ve never eaten in your life. Mary slips a forkful into my mouth. I close my eyes.

This is his body, which has been given up for you.




Gary Moshimer has stories in Pank, Smokelong Quarterly, Frigg, Wigleaf, Word Riot, Necessary Fiction, and many other places. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Wigleaf notable story


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