curio by laura ellen scott



A Closed Throat

The prosperous farmer was pressed to death after he refused to plead. His family fled, the livestock suffered, and wind scoured his grain until it lay down. What good is grain? Homestead is where all plain women go to die of neglect, and it’s where they stay after death.

Another farmer tried again in the same space. He ignored the dark patches and bred his own raw children with a mad wife of the plains. They all froze to death.

Years later it was almost a town: Aspiration was named for its winds. Four homes, a post office, a carriage museum. Its citizens left as short generations dwindled to thirty odd women and girls, only four men. No boys. After men, a government of dogs took over.

The curs prepared for loneliness, looked marvelous against the bloody sun. Grain meant nothing to them, nothing at all. They shit in empty houses and mated in the narrow street. They waited. For a child or a fawn—small, unlucky, escaped—to wander down the centerline.

Eventually even the dog town died out. Useless settlement, rucked. Full of bees and toilet pits. Littered with bean tins and dead dogs, amended with farmers’ bones. Volunteer grain grown over it all.