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Two Stories
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



The Peeler


Time and again, I told my mate that kitchen implements were not designed for martial purposes, but for culinary creations. Despite my warnings, that mope of a hedgehog either didn’t hear my words or didn’t care. Consequently, one late afternoon, when I had returned from work, I found her on her back, with a vegetable peeler stuck into her chest. She no longer breathed.


I began an inquest. Someone, among my imaginary coterie, was responsible for that death and I meant to ascertain the facts.


Most often, my narratives present straightforward accounts of my experience raising pretend friends. Such “nuanced” writing gets enhanced by my daily goings-on, that is, by my reports on the select absurdities that are concomitant to my taking care of all manner of nonexistent things. Apparently, readers enjoy perusing prose that lavishes attention on critters unrelated to humans and greedily consume all details about physical threats that otherwise would never have been issued by beasts easily classified by science. More exactly, I make moula by telling tales about the creatures of my imagination.


Regardless, that lone furze pig ought not to have been brandishing kitchen riggings. Years earlier, a gelatinous, two-headed wildebeest had been shish kabobbed when a hungry delegate from Jupiter’s plasma surface had demanded the last of our sugar cookies and the viscous ruminant had fought back. Weapons ought only to be employed by sentients that know how to use them.


After that wildebeest’s demise, I had regularly cautioned my invisible friends not to play with matches, with knives, or with any other cooking utensil. Alas, my make-believe spiny mammal had failed to heed my words.


Her funeral was held in the bathroom. With a single flush, I disposed of her imperceptible body and then returned to my lair, I mean, to my home office, to write a speculative fiction eulogy.


The tale was rejected by my favorite science fiction editor. He maintained that it was mawkish at best, puerile at worst. However, he was so intrigued by the inquiry that I claimed to be holding that he bid that, maychance, my least favorite villain, the sparkly inchworm known to be enamored with toothpicks, might have taken lessons in wielding arms.


While remaining indifferent to that idea, I pressed “send” to mail my not-so-trite narrative to another of my publishing industry acquaintances. That gatekeeper, an editor at a fantasy Ezine, too, rejected my masterpiece, saying it was too shrill for her readers. However, like the other person who had given my work a thumbs down, she was fascinated with my investigation and suggested that I seek out the whereabouts of my long-lost colony of dust bunnies. In that case, too, I mentally shrugged and moved on.


My third volley was to a person who ran a WordPress offering. She liked my story and liked that I had submitted it to her. She promised that my words would run before a cure was found for COVID-19. Meanwhile, like the publication caretakers who had preceded her, she expressed interest in my hunt for the murderer. Look in your kitchen’s junk drawer, she advised.


After notching my resume, I mean, after adjusting my log to reflect my fiction’s acceptance, I opened my junk drawer. Within its boundaries were both the sparkly inchworm and most of my long-lost colony of dust bunnies. Together, they were laughing over the array of frilled toothpicks that lay amongst them. One dust clump, though, was coddling a suspicious object; it was cossetting an OXO Good Grips Y Peeler.


Roused, I quickly picked through scissors, tape, some metered, yet incomplete, verse, thumbtacks, chip bag clips, a recipe for spicy okra, and artwork that had been gifted to me by my grandchildren. When I got to the dust clumps, as was de rigor given the stealth that I had assigned them, they disappeared. The sparkly worm, too, vanished, leaving only a handful of sequins as evidence that it had partied with the dust bunnies.


I face palmed. Again, I face palmed. Mom had warned me not to keep a junk drawer in my kitchen because it would become like a black hole, or, like a warren that connected to the multiverse, but I had ignored her. I had never dreamed that such a compartment would become a safehouse for story bound marauders.


I backed away from that hideaway and sighed myself into my favorite kitchen chair. Just as I began to slouch, the flashbulbs went off.


Today, I have become a celebrity of sorts. My face has been splashed next to my yarns in many speculative fiction venues. What’s more, most of those photos include one of my shoulders, an arm, and a hand. In my hand is a small vegetable peeler.






Anfisa picked at her cuticle and shook her head. Whereas she was pursuing a “useless” English degree so that she could work for The Gallery Collection upon graduation, Natalie, her younger sister, was wasting time by fretting over tulle and peer approval.


Anfisa’s Rhetoric professor had lectured that comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness, i.e. “coherence’s components,” determined individuals’ sense of accomplishment. According to that wisdom, Natalie ought not to be freaking out and texting Anfisa, repeatedly, about homecoming court positions—Natalie’s life was charmed. Whereas Anfisa was stocky, Natalie was curvaceous. Even as Anfisa had to study long hours to pass classes, Natalie, who regularly skipped classes, had gotten invited to the honor society. While Anfisa had quit flute, Natalie played lead saxophone in a punk band.


No one doubted that Natalie would soon be offered various college subsidies. Contrariwise, the town was shocked upon learning that Anfisa’s tuition was being paid by the Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest. Her entry had featured a neighbor’s dog, hanging off of a porch step. It had been inscribed “Chillax!”




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