Fat separating on the warm asphalt, deep-fried, steaming burger-broth glistening, the sugar-popped neon candy crystals from the service counter, just all of it getting under fingernails of sticky hands, sticky cheeks, sticky teeth. Biscuits in concrete-colored gravy. Lots of biscuits in concrete-colored gravy. Oozing out of that smoggy mudburger kitchen shack, slathering out onto the street. Filling the pot holes, clogging the storm drains. All over the place. Biscuits floating like lily pads down the gravel road. And more biscuits in gravy! Air sizzling and sweating in fat, sticky breaths and sticky lungs. An inflatable kiddie pool bobbing down the highway. Kids just grabbing those blobby corpuscles out of the thin air like manna. Just the roads and houses swelling and bursting and clogging. The mudburger fry cooks standing on the shack’s tin roof shrugging, but not too surprised. I mean, if the Israelites had been hungry Southern Baptists, this is what they’d have prayed for. Viscous gravy like someone struck some precise lithographical gravy well that had been chugging under our feet all this time. Haven’t seen anything like this since the fried okra disaster of ’45.
Ardith Bravenec is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh whose work appears in Hobart, DIAGRAM, Event Horizon, and The Best Teen Writing.
This story is published in partnership with Paper Darts Magazine, as a celebration of our joint effort to give the literary world a makeover, one short story at a time.
Published on December 8, 2017.