White Meat Index | Lindsay Forbes Brown

7 mins read

Apple peels curling pinkly on the kitchen table, their white meat tart and cold when I bit into their crescent shapes. 

Because I was five or six or seven even, I didn’t find it strange when you asked me to sit on your adult-sized lap. 

“Can you tell me who your favorite uncle is?” you liked to ask, and playfully I would say Uncle Bob, but you would shake your head and make me correct myself, and then you would tell me I was your favorite too. 

Dial soap and beta-carotene were what you recommended for my acne. Every time you saw me, you would cut your eyes, wanting to know if I had eaten my carrots that day. 

Each (non-secret) girlfriend of yours was a good clog-wearing, Jesus-loving woman, but you never married and remain a bachelor living in your momma’s house at age 62. 

Follow me, you would curl a creamy finger in my direction, and I would follow you into your black pick-up truck where we would drive to plowed fields and sit, listening to country music, not saying much at all. 

Going on trips to your lake house was always a treat, except for that time when my brother took his girlfriend. You made sure to compliment her; you leered at that 19-year-old girl in her bikini and grinned a Cheshire grin she would have felt all the way down to her wet, bony toes. 

“Help,” is how my mom begged her mother to keep an eyeball on you during holidays; she never told my father—your brother—a word. 

Inching its way up my thigh went your hand at Texas Roadhouse. I watched your gold ring disappear under my skirt until Mom smacked you off me like a mosquito.

Jack’s was where we gnawed on your choice white meat on red picnic tables and sucked on the knobby bones. 

Killing groundhogs and coyotes is easy; you just need the right shotgun. You showed me which one would do the trick, told me to put my eye to the sight and locate the crosshairs. 

Last Thanksgiving, I asked if you were dating. You clicked your teeth and winked, “Always two or three at a time and some of them younger than you.” (The secret girlfriends.) 

“Medicine” was the second-grade spelling word you quizzed me on in my bedroom, our thighs pressed together, and you corrected me when I missed the first “I” and said “E” instead. 

“No, I’m too old,” is what Mom coached me to say after I told her you were still asking me to sit on your lap. I was 12. 

Over this past Christmas, Mom told me how hard she used to pray, wrists rosary-wrapped and eyes wide-open. 

Popsicles—of the grape variety—were what you offered me when I was little and sick, and you’d plop me in front of the television set to watch Pooh Bear as long as I wanted. 

Quilt to my chin, I remember calling your name in the blue-black night to ask for a glass of Coca-Cola. You would float in as soon as I called and place an extra-fizzy one on my bedside table. 

Rocking next to you on those La-Z-Boy armchairs, I’d listen to you chew on the jellybeans and chocolate kisses which overflowed the jars in the house. You always had to have your candy after dessert. 

Slurps of sweet iced-tea and your racist laugh were the sounds of lunchtime. You loved talking about the people who came into the pharmacy stinking to high heavens, reminding you of their BMs, paying with pennies, running on empty. 

Three tongue emojis followed by three water drops were sent to an unidentifiable number from your phone, and I wondered how old she was. 

Up went my shirt when you told me my belly button had disappeared. I’d pull that shirt up and show you—no, look, here it is. Smiling with all my teeth. 

Vacationing was something you started to talk about as soon as I went off to college. You’d look at maps charting which roads you would take to get to me in New York or DC—wherever in the world I was. 

Whenever I used to talk about boyfriends, you would scrunch your face as if to sneeze and mutter off-hand, thinly veiled threats. 

X-rated jokes crowded your brain, and you’d stick one on the back of each hot-breathed whisper into my eardrum. 

Your truck was lined with shotguns and pistols, laden with muddy footprints and dust, chock-full of bullets longer than my fingers, and three silver-blonde hairs. 

Zoloft, Yohimbine, Xanax, Wellbutrin, Viagra, Uribel, Trazodone, Sertraline, Reboxetine, Prozac, Olena, Nardil, Mirtazapine, Lofepramine, Isocarboxazid, Faverin, Edronax, Duloxetine, Cymbalta, Brintellix, Allegron- the sort of drugs you count and bottle, of which we take to swallow the bad, of which we need in order to live. 

Lindsay Forbes Brown received her MFA from American University, where she served as Editor in Chief for FOLIO. She is a Kenyon Review and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference alumnus and is currently Assistant Editor for Grace & Gravity. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is featured in or forthcoming in Cimarron ReviewGargoyle, Hobart, J Journal, JMWWOff-ChanceSo to Speak, and on her website: lindsayforbesbrown.com