Auntie was cutting vegetables like they weren’t even there, asking why I was worried about who would ride the Ferris Wheel with whom when these girls out here—hacking the back end of a butcher knife through the side of a sweet onion—were always wearing some too-tight torn-up see-through something over popped-up nipples like it’s cool to be cold. She stabbed a peel and brought the knife to her breast. Oh, she said with a moan, twirling the blade. I told her she’d better stop, swallowing a smile. Onion sting filled the air. She returned to the cutting board and told me I should hang out on campus instead of around the old neighborhood, get in with the ones who stay through spring semester, drink coffee, quote a poet, find a woman with clothes over her chest, a woman I could bring home for dinner, with appetite, whip smart but kind, a wholesome woman. The stockpot was steaming on the stove. Double Jeopardy was starting by the microwave. Alex Trebek was dead, and the soup was already reminding me of my mother. The word wholesome, I said, is composed of opposites—isn’t that funny. Auntie paused her dice, hovering over half-moons of onion, knuckles at the wide edge of the knife, tears jeweling the ends of her lashes, and she looked to the TV, maybe wondering if I had stolen the line from a category or if I had brought that one to the table on my own. The camera panned, and the contestants were at their buzzers. Boy, she said, if you don’t start peeling carrots.

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Christopher Notarnicola is an MFA graduate of Florida Atlantic University. His work has been published with American Short Fiction, Bellevue Literary Review, Best American Essays, Chicago Quarterly Review, Epiphany, Image, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere. Find him in Pompano Beach, Florida and at