by Karin Aurino
When me and my sisters were little, Uncle Jab came to visit the trailer every weekend while our Mom went to work. He always took his shirt off after she left, cursing the heat. He made popcorn and let us climb on Mom’s big bed, snuggling around him while he read stories from wilted picture books with broken spines. He stroked the fuzzy hair on his chest and belched after chugging a beer, and we’d laugh. He fed us ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles for dinner. He hugged us individually, holding on tight and long. Then he’d scratch between his legs and tell us to get our pj’s on. He’d pull me into the bathroom to tell me in private I was his favorite. Then he jabbed me in the warm place between my legs. He promised if I didn’t tell anyone, he’d save that spot just for him.
His real name was Jeremy, but everyone called him Jab because he found a place to jab everyone he knew. When my oldest sister developed, I saw him jab her in the boob. She slapped his hand away, and he laughed. Then he pushed her into the bedroom and locked the door. He said his father came to sleep in his bed when he was our age, so it was okay. He told us he got kicked out of the Army but didn’t like to talk about it. He didn’t talk much about anything but what a woman was meant to do. When I was thirteen and Uncle Jab came by smelling of moth balls and beer, my oldest sister picked up a dirty kitchen knife from the sink and told Uncle Jab he didn’t need to watch us anymore.
After school Teddy came over to sit with me on the couch. He was seventeen and already had a job at the QuikTrip. Teddy told me we’d get married when I was old enough. He put his tongue in my mouth and asked if he was the first to kiss me like that. I told him he was the second, and his ears turned red. He yelled, demanding to know who. It was supposed to be a secret, but I didn’t want to upset Teddy, so I told him Uncle Jab taught me things. Then Teddy’s cheeks and neck turned red to match his ears. It was a couple months later when the dogs found Uncle Jab in the field out by the old church, skin rotting and insects digging holes where his face and genitalia used to be. Me and my sisters never talked about Uncle Jab, but we shared a look that day. Me and Teddy were married a year later.
Karin Aurino writes poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Literary Orphans, The Satirist, 50 Word Stories, Bacopa Literary Review, among others and has received recognition from Glimmer Train. Aurino lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and their dog, George.