By Ashley Jeffalone
For the party, the women have laid out chicken adobo warmed in casserole dishes. Longanisa, plump and red, stacked on platters. White rice in ceramic bowls. Pork sinigang in an electric hot pot, simmering and souring and acidifying the air. The children with dark tans chase each other around the dinner table and bump into their mothers, who are too absorbed in banter to scold. Among them stands his wife, dark kohl under her eyes and a serving spoon in her hand. He meets her gaze, and all the other women turn to do the same, chattering in that language he can’t understand. There’s a jolt in his stomach. He turns away, eats the white rice on his plate, cuts the fat from the adobo. He drinks from the fountain of sinigang and spits out the bones there. Their daughter emerges from the cyclone of scampering kids. She asks for a bite of anything at all. He clucks like a chicken in response, babbles a shadow of the tongue around them. From among the women turns his wife, who can pick out his mockery even above the clamor of a party, but she only shakes her head. Their daughter swallows half a longanisa. Their daughter jabbers his nonsense back to him.
Ashley Jeffalone is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She received her Master’s degree in Literary and Cultural Studies with a creative writing focus from the University of Oklahoma. Her fiction has appeared in Wordrunner eChapbooks, and she currently works in interactive narrative.
Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor
Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by AP, weather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.