Thin and Then
by Casey Hannan

I was in a church choir once, but I just whispered. There were other boys who could sing. I only sang in the car with my mother. She lied and told me my voice had a creepy beauty. She said it was like if spiders could sing. She circled one of her hands around my wrist and told me I would be a spider if I had to be anything else. I told her she would be a sewing needle and thread.

My mother said, "Thank you. I'd be useful in so many ways."

My mother's a supermodel. She has a new family who doesn't know she's a supermodel. Her husband is a librarian and her children know how to make their own clothes. My mother says it's important her new children have a skill. She says they don't have good faces yet. I say they look like models. My mother says there's a difference between models and supermodels. I ask about that difference and my mother won't tell me.

I've lost a lot of weight. My mother hasn't said anything about it. Being skinny is the bare minimum. I've always had skinny wrists. I have nightmares my wrists are full of snakes. That's why I tried to cut them out once. My mother was there. She put her hands over my eyes, and I fell asleep.

My mother's in town for a fashion show. We only drink. I've never seen my mother eat anything but breakfast. That was a long time ago. We were eating scrambled eggs and she said, "Just think about yellow food and how weird it is." Now I think about it every time. It's the weirdest with lemons. They look how they taste. I can squeeze lemons into my water all day and not get tired. My scars stand up when I squeeze. I've been doing exercises so I'm not such a spider anymore.

My mother has a purse full of airplane vodka shots. We sit on the edge of a fountain and drink. My mother tells me how her husband collects pictures of naked women. One folder on his computer is all supermodels. My mother is in there twice, but her face is painted.

"He knows my tits, though. I bet he knows. I don't have this many old friends getting married. That's what I have to say to travel."

"All my friends are getting married. They're turning into birds and making nests."

"Don't act like you want kids. You don't."

When my mother married her new husband, she made a nest of pillows on my old bed and put scented candles in it. She never lit the candles because scented candles are expensive. She took the lids off to let them breathe. The scents were grass and laundry. My mother had me again for a little while.

I ask my mother about tickets for her fashion show.

"It doesn't have to be front row."

"Listen, sweetie, I'm not really in town for a show this time."

My mother lifts her shirt and shows me a purple swell on her belly.

"I rolled over a brown recluse in my sleep. I can't be in a bikini yet. Maybe never again. It looks worse than it is. Just the end of my career."

My mother is crying. She drinks an airplane shot. It looks like she's sucking poison.

I say, "You can do makeup over it."

My mother takes my wrists and runs her thumbs over the web of my scars.

"You don't," she says.

There are some pigeons on the fountain with us. They're putting their beaks in the empty vodka bottles and knocking them in the water. A cop on a horse comes by and tells us to pick up our trash. My mother walks behind the cop and pulls the horse's tail. The horse kicks my mother in the stomach. The cop smacks the horse, and the horse kicks again and again. My mother tries to cave in a little more each time. She's a needle and her hair is snipped thread. The horse kicks my mother invisible.

BIO:  Casey Hannan lives in Kansas City. He's seen a man milk a venomous snake. The man had no thumbs. Casey is lazy at


Alana Noel Voth said…

Eerie. Lyrical. Wow.

Also, my supermodel has scars on her wrists too.

Nikki Magennis said…
Wow, yes. That is beautiful.
Tres Crow said…
Just about the time that horse was kicking, I felt about the same way the mother felt. Great story, man. Excellent.

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