Tag Archives: Charlotte

“Charlotte” – Fiction by Nancy Hightower

A Girl Head Behind Spider Web - Toyen, 1934
A Girl Head Behind Spider Web – Toyen, 1934

From our Fall 2016 issue, Nancy Hightower‘s powerful flash fiction “Charlotte” is a dark spin on a classic children’s story. 

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THERE COULD HAVE BEEN A BARN THAT DAY, with giant haystacks and a pitchfork that somehow always got lost. It could have been a one bedroom apartment in Jersey City. There could have been a baby pig so small the mama pig forgot all about it. Or an old pit bull that pissed on the carpet because it couldn’t make it outside in time.

Either way, the dad wanted to kill it.

There was probably a little girl who wanted to save the pig or the pit bull. That kid had street smarts, could work the county fair or Atlantic City and bought her adopted pet a few extra months of life with the dad. The Jersey father might have worked seventy hours a week and had no patience for an invalid pet and headstrong child. They both knew how to hide in a corner, blend into the shadows so the father might not see them. The farmer probably had his own concerns, but daily he eyed the scrawny runt who ate the scraps and yet never grew fast enough. And the daughter saw it. She saw many things, that girl. Some real, some imagined. Who’s to say the spider in the old barn didn’t spin glorious webs into words illuminated by the morning dew? Or it could have been a brown recluse whose ragged weavings she imagined would save her pig from her father’s ax.

Either way, there was a spider.

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