SmokeLong Quarterly
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Home Economics
by Gail Louise Siegel

art by Zoe Kaufman
art by Zoe Kaufman
Marguerite economizes. Twists open tiny soaps and shampoos collected over a lifetime. Cheap brands from no-tell motels. Occitane de Paris from the Burnham in Chicago. Lemony bath foam from Italy. Little creams and lotions from hospitals—at her age, everything needs lubricating, inside and out. There are slender scissors from a broken foot, miniature powders from a heart attack.

She buys bar soap, not body wash. Dial. Remembers how sexy a man smells, hot from a shower, permeated with Dial—homey as fresh bread.

Takes the train instead of paying to park. Brings a cheese sandwich for lunch. Drinks tap water, not pop. Brews coffee in the office kitchen. Cancels the paper and reads it on line.

She breaks open the free toothbrush from the dentist. Buys generic aspirin. Finds it's cheaper to drink well at home than poor in a bar.

Thinks frugal deeds will ward off a pink slip. Thinks wrong. The night after she's laid off, she feeds the dog the last kibble, taps out the dreck at the bottom of the bag.

At the church fleamarket, she buys Ralph Lauren job hunt pants. With a belt, on tiptoe, they almost fit.

She shrinks the pants in the dryer. Rummages her closet for a freebie soap.

Thinks, where to tonight? She lifts a vial to her nose. Inhales the Amalfi Coast. Enters steamy water. Cranks the flow up to pummel.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Gail Louise Siegel's work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, FRiGG, Post Road, Juked and elsewhere. She lives just barely outside of Chicago.

Read the interview.

Zoe Kaufman's work can be found online at
Issue Twenty-Five (June 25, 2009): Bush Chanting by Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Flying Pens by Pam Bolton «» Rats by Z.Z. Boone «» The Hobblers by Dan Chaon «» Slanguistic Lipstick by Frank Dahai «» Rain by Natalie DeClerck «» Good Friday by Steven Gullion «» Me and Theodore Are Trapped in the Trunk of the Car with Rags in Our Mouths and Tape Around Our Wrists and Ankles, Please Let Us Out. by Mary Hamilton «» Underfoot by Joan Harvey «» A Minor Setback by Tara Laskowski «» Woman in a Bar by Dorianne Laux «» Matt: How It Will Happen by Amanda Nazario «» Trace by Darlin' Neal «» Exile on Payne Street by Ryan Ridge «» Home Economics by Gail Louise Siegel «» A Funny Smell by Ray Vukcevich «» Andersonville by Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Northern Migration by Brandon Wicks «» Interviews: Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Pam Bolton «» Z.Z. Boone «» Dan Chaon «» Frank Dahai «» Natalie DeClerck «» Steven Gullion «» Mary Hamilton «» Joan Harvey «» Tara Laskowski «» Dorianne Laux «» Amanda Nazario «» Darlin' Neal «» Ryan Ridge «» Gail Louise Siegel «» Ray Vukcevich «» Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Brandon Wicks «» Cover Art "The Vanishing Lotus" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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