by Jane Banning


Damn it, I can get this picture hung. I chucked a bent nail into the garbage and stuck my smashed thumb in my mouth. The warmth of my mouth didnít help. In fact, my bitter thumb ballooned up even more.

Stupid, crappy picture. I picked another nail out of the box. Iíd had this box for so long that the oldest nails in the bottom were furred with orange rust, fine as butterfly feathers. Tina and I had hung a mirror on our apartmentís unmarked walls with one of these. We drank wine and laughed between our wobbly attempts, throwing a dozen ninety-degree nails in the trash. Finally, one sank in, sweetly straight and true. The mirror held.

We hung shelves, photos, cowboy hats, and, after one guzzly party, Mardi Gras beads. We layered on antique farm tools, lumpy art deco collages: whatever intrigued Tina at the moment. Friends were always spending the night. We danced a lot back then.  

We wrestled with a heavy Victorian print and suspended it on a skinny brad. When it smashed to the floor at midnight, we picked glass with pricked fingers and had to wear shoes indoors because neither of us liked to vacuum. I never knew that Tina didnít like shoes.

In the early, dry spring, she told me sheíd become Buddhist.

Tina moved out, suddenly, in June. She didnít take any of her stuff, so I stripped the walls and threw everything away. Ragged holes pocked the walls. I tried to fill them with spackle, but they never looked right. I bought garage sale posters and dried flower arrangements to cover the bareness.

I hammered, missed the nail and whacked my thumb again. I slung the hammer and spent the afternoon watching TV. So what about the nail holes? I didnít need crap on the walls.  




Jane Banning lives in Oregon, Wisconsin with her husband and son. She was a finalist in the Micro Fiction Award contest in 2008. Her work has appeared in the University of Iowa Daily Palette, Six Sentences, Tuesday Shorts, Long Story Short, Birds By My Window, and Boston Literary Magazine.  She is currently working on her first novel, The Silo.