How Do You Deal With the Horribly Cruel Things People Have Said to You Throughout Your Life?
Bess Winter

I like to make people out of walnuts. Grandmaw taught me. She had a bag full of plastic feet and another full of googly eyes. She said, you just glue the feet on the bottom of the nut like so. Then you put on two eyes. And sometimes you can jazz up your nut, add a bit of yarn for hair or some funny little pipe cleaner arms. Look how they bend.

Nut accessories are fancier now. Used to be the only kind of feet you could get for a walnut were bare feet, but now at a good craft store you can get little shoes. Also, tiny hats.

I've made thousands of nut people. Every one has its own personality. Cowboy nuts. Spaceman nuts. This is a nun nut here.

This is my family. Grandmaw, rest her. With a little apron. Grandpaw, rest him too. His hair's a cotton ball. Mawmaw in a pink sunhat, and my brother with a dog. Pawpaw's got a golf club in his pipe cleaner hand. I made these as presents for them, actually, which was stupid. Really just I don't know why I did that. Pawpaw said he never played golf, which was so true, and therefore this nut didn't look like him at all, and then everybody else admitted their nuts were garbage-y. And what kind of fuckwit would want nuts like this besides someone like me who loves them, right? So I keep them hidden away here. They're probably the worst nuts I've ever made but I've made lots of better ones since, like this congressman nut.
All I know is I have to keep making them, gluing the pieces together, trying to finally get them right. Sometimes I do it without thinking. Look, I'm making one now.

Bess Winter is from Toronto. Her story "Signs," from American Short Fiction, won a Pushcart Prize and was included in the 2012 Wigleaf Top 50.

Read more of BW's work in the archive.

Detail of nitrate film frame courtesy of The Turnconi Project.

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