Mudburgers and Gravy
Ardith Diane Bravenec
Fat separating on the warm asphalt, deep-fried, steaming burger-broth glistening, the sugar-popped neon candy crystals from the service counter, just all of it getting under fingernails of sticky hands, sticky cheeks, sticky teeth. Biscuits in concrete-colored gravy. Lots of biscuits in concrete-colored gravy. Oozing out of that smoggy mudburger kitchen shack, slathering out onto the street. Filling the potholes, clogging the storm drains. All over the place. Biscuits floating like lily pads down the gravel road. And more biscuits in gravy! Air sizzling and sweating in fat, sticky breaths and sticky lungs. An inflatable kiddie pool bobbing down the highway. Kids just grabbing those blobby corpuscles out of the thin air like manna. Just the roads and houses swelling and bursting and clogging. The mudburger fry cooks standing on the shack’s tin roof shrugging, but not too surprised. I mean, if the Israelites had been hungry Southern Baptists, this is what they’d have prayed for. Viscous gravy like someone struck some precise lithographic gravy well that had been chugging under our feet all this time. Haven’t seen anything like this since the fried okra disaster of ’45.
Born and raised in Mississippi, Ardith Bravenec is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh studying water in the early solar system. Her work can be found in Hobart, Event Horizon, The Best Teen Writing, The Momaya Annual Review, and in a secret notebook buried out back.
Illustrated by Jeremy Anderson.