Lynette’s War

Chella Courington

Cousin Lynette says she’s tired from cleaning

East Main houses of rich bitches. They don’t even shit

like us, got toilet seats that float to the bowl,

never make a sound, & she hands me the baby

over the front seat. Days off Merry Maids

we like to drive her ’97 Trans Am to Gulf Shores— 

kd lang over eight speakers.

I’m tired too, tired of being the babysitter.

Leah, grabbing my earrings, covers me in crumbs.

She bites off the heads of animal crackers.

Only eats heads.


Don’t know why I hang with her.

She’s like the girl who cut my hair at Cinderella’s

saying I had the ugliest strands she’d ever seen.

I kept going back for more till Lynette blurted 

you don’t need to pay for that kind of shit.

And Lynette says outright

she’s sexy & I’m not. We both know it.

Junior high she called me a mutant. Boobs

like raisins on a fifteen-year old’s wrong.

Mama took me to the doctor & he shook his head.


At least Lynette is a good mother.

When the kid has fever, Lynette won’t go

to work. I’d rather lose my job

than leave a sick baby at daycare.

Guess that’s why I hang with her.

She might call me names, but let somebody else do it,

she’d scratch their eyes out. At the Sonic,

some boy from Crossville leaned in the window,

drop the fat chick & let’s go driving. 

She clawed his left cheek & screeched away,

tray still on the car, cokes & fries flying.

Son of a bitch thinks he can dump on you and have 

a good time with me. Stupid bastard.


I thought Lynette would always be the one to leave.

Good looking. Smart. She never let anybody

walk on her, or me, though she did

what Cochran girls do after getting their

driver’s license. She got knocked up.

Wouldn’t tell a soul who the father was.

We all thought it was Sonny Cruz.

He went to Afghanistan in August & emailed Lynette every day.

Like they were junk, she’d hit delete.

He started writing letters she stacked on her dresser—

unopened. Keeping in touch with soldiers

is talking to the dead. Sonny could come back,

I say. Lots of boys make it. Lynette turns away

he might, but he won’t be the Sonny I knew. 


After homecoming she carries his letters out to the grill.

They catch on the third match.

Every last word.

Chella Courington (she/they) is a writer and teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in numerous anthologies and journals including Gargoyle, New World Writing, and Anti-Heroin Chic. A Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington was raised in the Appalachian south and now lives in California.

This piece has been previously published in Amaryllis (August 1, 2016), Ed. Stephen Daniels; Line Rider Press (June 10, 2020), Eds. Jessica Colleen McDermott and Joshua Lew McDermott.

The author and the editors encourage readers to donate to Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund here.