by Elizabeth Mastrangelo

When the meat plant caught fire, a month after Anna and Kent returned from their June honeymoon, at first the smarting charcoal air reminded them of their housewarming barbeque (the evidence of a clueless cook that sets a blaze, stoked on love), but then it bothered them so they closed the windows and moved through it, bickering in between shy touches and suggestive glances, unaccustomed to sharing such a small space with another body, until the smell started to penetrate their clothes, and the slipcover on the couch, and the walls, and Anna couldn't bear to get close to someone in this place stained with smoke, and said, "You need to do something," and Kent said, "I don't know what you want," and Anna said, "Make some calls," and Kent said, "It makes no difference," and Anna said, "You're not trying very hard," and she opened the windows "because I feel like I'm suffocating," and Kent closed them again, because they should keep out the worst as long as they could, and the stench of rotting turkey and roast beef, filet and pork sausage, eight million pounds of it, cut through the burn, a fleshy, metallic, sour stench, and Anna told Kent to rip up the carpet and strip the wallpaper, and he told her to put a lid on the garbage, and she cried and said, "You stink like a corpse," and get away, get away, get away, you don't do anything right, so he struck a match and made everything smell like a sweet summer roast all over again, and all for her.

BIO: Elizabeth Mastrangelo first started writing fiction on her mother's Canon typewriter thirty-five years ago. These days, she teaches English to ninth and tenth graders and also works as a freelancer, ghostwriting nonfiction books, romance novellas, and website copy. Liz holds an MEd and an MA in English from UMass Boston and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Living with her devoted husband, spunky daughter, and sports-obsessed son on the north shore of Massachusetts provides her with endless engaging material for her stories. Liz’s work has appeared in Sheepshead Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Burningword Literary Journal, amongst other publications. She blogs about teaching, womanhood, and motherhood at www.spurredgirl.com.