Midnight, and Sam is burying the spoons again. Because he thinks burying the spoons is the trick to getting me pregnant.

“Why spoons?” I asked the first time he did it. It’s not just the delicate silver teaspoons that he buries, the spoons we inherited from his mother and that look like they might actually hold some magic. He buries every spoon in our kitchen. The plump soup spoons that are too wide for a small child’s mouth. The sweet little clay spoons I made in pottery classes back when I still took pottery classes. The soft wooden cooking spoons, too.

“Spoons are sensual,” Sam said.

“I guess,” I said, but I knew what he meant. I used to think when I was shaping them out of clay about how the curved scoop of the spoons felt like breasts, the handles like weirdly slender penises. Like a cat penis maybe, only longer.

They’re a fertility symbol if there ever was one.

After Sam buries the spoons, we have sex. Is the sex good? Sometimes it is. Sometimes I’m so tired I practically sleep right through it. Other times I can’t relax. Can’t stop picturing him burying those spoons. His fingers digging in the dirt. The way sweat beads on his forehead.

Sometimes he sounds like a raccoon scurrying around in the moonlight. That past February raccoons plucked the fruit I’d left on our orange tree. They peeled those oranges as neatly as any human. The rinds scattered beneath the tree made me think of shed exoskeletons.

Every morning just before sunrise Sam digs those spoons up again. Because that’s part of the ritual. The spoons must be unearthed before light touches the soil, or the trick won’t work.

How long as has he been doing this? Eleven weeks now? Seventeen? I don’t know anymore.

I know this: the only thing that’s changed shape around here is the spoons. Every day they look a little more worn, a little more bent. And every day they make the food in our mouths taste a little bit more like dirt.

***

Michelle Ross is the author of There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You (2017), which won the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award. Her fiction has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Epiphany, Fanzine, The Pinch, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and other venues. She is fiction editor of Atticus Review. www.michellenross.com.

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