by Jody M Keene

There are two of them at the end of the street, tanned and interchangeable, in constant motion on bikes or skates or their own two feet. They crush my grass under their wheels and leave footprints in my flower beds.
I keep an eye on them.
They think I am Hansel and Gretel’s witch, my house built out of sugar and the bones of the children before them, and they are not far wrong. I am a crone now, the hump-backed, hunch-backed dowager of the neighborhood watch association.
I ate my own children whole—swallowed in my womb in two, three, four greedy gulps then gone, expelled in a trickle of blood. No names, no faces. My belly aches with them.
“See here?” I say to the one on the bike. “This is parsley.”
“This one is mint,” I say to the one with the skateboard.
“And this is rosemary,” I say to their backs as they turn.
There are no candy colors here, no frosting-piped window ledges to tempt lost children. They scatter over my lawn in their haste to get away, get to the ice-cream truck, the sprinklers, their air-conditioned mamas.
I can taste them.
These two, with their sweat-sticky limbs and their dirty faces, Popsicle trails from their chins down their necks—I will plant gingerbread for them.

Jody M Keene is a writer with a healthy stack of rejections living in central Arkansas. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine, JMWW, and Lunette Review. She also a tends to scissors & spackle, a sister journal of Emerge. Follow her @JodyMKeene.

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