Vallie Lynn Watson

Stabbing the Rat

Veronica didn’t visit Kate and Sonny again until she was sure Enzo had moved out of their house. Husband and wife were in the kitchen, chopping bell peppers and onions, when she got there. Sonny hugged her. Kate turned to say something, knife in hand, but then stood still, looking at the microwave. A large gray rat ran across the blue-tiled counter, and she stabbed it right through. She held the knife in place, looking at the rat stuck on the blade.

Veronica walked outside, managed not to get sick, and threw sticks to the dogs. The burned house next door hadn’t been fixed, and there was a red and white “for sale by owner” sign in the front yard. Kate came out with a trash bag that she ran to the cans on the street. Then she left in her car, waving, smiling.

Sonny was on the porch swing, said Kate was going for groceries. Veronica sat down next to him and looked back and forth between the lantana in Kate’s garden to the blond hairs on the back of Sonny’s hand, catching the sunlight. He kept putting his hand on her thigh as he talked and she kept putting it back in his own lap.

She was leaning against his shoulder when they heard brakes and looked up at the street. A small black car was headed at them, but the sun blinded them from seeing the driver. The car started towards them and they jumped up, were halfway across the porch when the car hit the bricks. The swing swung sideways, hitting the house then the car, the house then the car. Enzo came out of the crumbled door, and one of the dogs growled, bit him.

Kate drove up, and everyone went inside. Kate took Enzo to the guest bedroom. Veronica and Sonny watched them through the open door. Kate put her hand on Enzo’s shoulder and pushed him to sit on the bed. She stood in front of him and put her arms around his head, pulling Enzo’s face to her breasts, and ran her fingers through his hair.

Veronica and Sonny went outside and looked silently at the car, the house. Finally she said she had to go. Before she pulled away, Sonny checked her tires, and leaned into the window for a hug.


Vallie Lynn Watson received her PhD from the Center for Writers and teaches creative writing at Southeast Missouri State University. Lynn’s manuscript, A River So Long, was first runner up in the 2009 Miami University Press Novella Contest. Excerpts from the work appear or are forthcoming in Pindeldyboz, Staccato Fiction, Product, Metazen, Journal of Truth and Consequence, Women Writers, Sunsets and Silencers, Oracle, 971 Menu, Trailer Park Quarterly, Moon Milk Review, and Ghoti. The best trailer she ever lived in had an elevator.