It’s back! The blog advent calendar. I enjoyed last year’s blog theme last year—re-reading twenty-four books of my youth—so much, so this year I’m applying the same approach to short stories, trawling through a myriad bunch of collections and anthologies I’ve read in the last few years.
Three Small Slices of Pumpkin Pie – Wendy N. Wagner
Tell me about your first time: This story was one of my favourites I read this year (though it was actually published in 2015). I read it by accident, as sometimes happens; I had gone to read an entirely different story on Farrago’s Wainscot, and instead read a few lines of ‘Three Small Slices…’, and then a few more lines, and then the whole thing.
Sum it up: Every woman has her pumpkin, attached by a vine to the belly button, and visible for all to see…
Give me a quote: “By the middle of sixth grade almost every girl had her pumpkin, small and effervescently orange, tucked beneath her desk, the green vine laying neatly against her leg. Janet’s own pumpkin seemed slightly smaller than most, the rind a bit green-speckled. She could expect that to change as she grew older, Mrs. Bannon had reassured her, patting the side of a heavy, burnt-orange gourd. Liver spots dappled the back of the woman’s hand, the same ruddy color as the patches around the top of the fruit. Janet couldn’t take her eyes off it. Even during science class, her favorite, her eyes returned again and again to the segmented curves of the ancient pumpkin sitting beside Mrs. Bannon’s ankle.”
Second Reading: Sometimes a metaphor works well, and sometimes a metaphor works mostly, and sometimes a metaphor works perfectly. The pumpkins of ‘Three Small Slices…’ are the latter. It’s an intensely powerful image, weird and uncomfortable but also immediately resonant, pulling all sorts of things into its orbit: desire, repulsion, ageing, desire, objectification, self-image, sexuality. On second reading, I honestly loved this story more than the first time. It’s absolutely beautiful, a perfect melding of the speculative and the human.
Where can I find it?: You can read it online here at Farrago’s Wainscot.