KulpaHarvest Gold

Underbite
by Kathryn Kulpa

First grade, where all my transgressions began.

I blame Todd Ramos, with his birthday bag of gold coins. They were real gold, he said. Not candy. And his uncle was a real pirate, and lived on a pirate ship.

My cartoon hero was Underdog, and at the start of every show, Underdog—in his disguise as a lowly paperboy—was paid with a coin, which he bit, presumably to check that it was a real coin and not candy.

So my path was clear.

I took one of Todd’s gold coins from its net bag, put it between my teeth, and bit down, hard. The coin I’d half believed was real–half wanted to–gave way immediately. And as I was about to proclaim to the class that Todd had lied came his wail: She ate my chocolate!

No use to protest that he’d called it real gold. No use to cite the example of Underdog. I was sent to the Seat of Shame, where I spent the day in outlaw silence, slowly picking scraps of bitter gold foil out of my mouth, letting sweet stolen chocolate melt between my offending teeth.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo is me, age five and a half, on the first day of school. I wanted to wear my new winter coat and hat, even though it was only September, and probably sweltering. I believe I was dissuaded, but I did get to pose for a picture in them — in the kitchen, next to our harvest gold range.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Dear Todd (name changed to protect the innocent): this is just to say I am sorry I ate the chocolate you brought to school, and which you were probably saving for lunch. Forgive me. It was delicious, so sweet and so gold.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathryn Kulpa is the author of  Pleasant Drugs (Mid-List Press)  and Who’s the Skirt? (Origami Poems Project). She has published flash fiction and prose poetry in Smokelong Quarterly, KYSO Flash, Literary Orphans, and The Flexible Persona and has work forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press. She will teach a fiction class for adults this fall at the Rogers Free Library in Bristol, Rhode Island.