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  • Ambrosia, and: Tell Them You Had a Mole Removed
  • Julie Hensley (bio)


The first thing he made her was a rocker.For the frame: wormwood,a maple found fallen on a hunting trip,branches big around as a human thigh,he dragged out of Runkles Gap.The sawing he arranged at a family mill near Luray—he traded a rifle for that lumber, dried sweetin his boss’s lilting garage, planed it himselfon evenings he was supposed to be working late,turned each piece with lathe and chiseluntil the weave of the tarnished woodcame to life beneath his hands.He laced the seat from fiber rush cord,dipping the coils in a pail of warm wateras he went, balancing the moisture and the tensionso the chair could breathe and shift and groanuntil it would fit only her hips exactly. [End Page 513]

Tell Them You Had a Mole Removed

her father said when she worriedwhat to tell the kids who’d been countingon her for a group project in AP English.(Though, in truth, Heart of Darkness made little sense,bred only damp shadow behind her rib cage—blind sister to the nausea, that penny-beneath-the-tongueswirl of saliva that had twice sent her rushingout of her 9:10 Spanish class.)

The same excuse he wrote on the piece of paper(yellow, lined, torn from the legal padwhich bore his own biology lectures)she would unfold for her PE teacher laterthat afternoon. And Ms. Garrett, who had beenher basketball coach freshman year, back whenGrace still wore braces and white cottonunderwear, would give her a knowing lookbefore pointing to the wooden bleachers.

But that night, in her lilac-painted bedroom,when she felt early October through the screenof her dormer window—the same one she had liftedall those summer nights to slideacross the porch roof anddrop herself down,flip-flops slapping gravel,thighs warming,lungs burning as she ranto where she knewhis truck waited— [End Page 514]

she wished for a square of gauze to remove,black stitches to trace, and later a scar,risen like a white skeleton, somethingshe might trace again and again. [End Page 515]

Julie Hensley

julie hensley grew up on a sheep farm in the Shenandoah Valley, but now she makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, the writer R. Dean Johnson, and their two children. She is a core faculty member of the Bluegrass Writers Studio, the low-residency MFA program at Eastern Kentucky University. Recent work appears in Saranac Review, The Pinch, and Blackbird.



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pp. 513-515
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