FICTION: How To Keep A Man by Gabrielle Brant Freeman

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Janie’s third wedding was small and outdoors with all the things you’d expect of such a wedding in the 2010’s, framed chalkboards and strings of lights and craft cocktails served in blue Mason jars. It was the middle of July in Georgia and it was hot as fuck. Janie glowed all over the place and danced barefoot. I sat at a burlap runnered table under a pecan tree drinking a mojito muddled right in front of me by a hot guy in a white linen button down and black slacks who was probably all of twenty-three. He winked as I stuffed a dollar into his Mason jar. Sweat sluiced down my spine and soaked into the back of my practical cotton underwear.

Under the table, I hiked my calf-length skirt up over my knees and spread my thighs, fanned myself with the thin fabric. Janie’s Aunt Ada plopped down in the chair next to me. She fished an ice cube out of her drink and dropped it into her significant cleavage.

“That’s better!” she said, pressing her breasts together with her wrists and making loud sounds of satisfaction.

I smiled and drained my drink, spilling ice and bits of mint all down the front of my age-appropriate peach tank top edged in small glass beads.

“Well, shit,” I said and mopped my chest and shirt with the small cocktail napkin announcing “Janie & Bo” in playful black script.

“Feels good, don’t it?” Aunt Ada asked, and I had to admit it did.

We both looked up, and I caught the eye of the bartender.

“He’s thinking about what he’d do with you, honey,” she said, smiling and raising her knobby chin in his direction. I closed my eyes and chuckled and tried not to think about what he might do, about how very long it had been.

“The way to keep a man,” she said, raising her Mason jar in the direction of the bar, then in the direction of Janie and Bo, stuck together in the heat out in front of the live guitar duo playing some song involving whiskey, rain, a truck, and a blue-eyed girl, “is to always give him a blow-job.”

I snorted. “That’s it?” I asked, playing along.

“That’s it. You got to get your knees dirty,” she said. “I gave the same advice to Janie there. I said, Janie? You want this’un to stay? Suck his dick.”

We both looked toward the bartender who was rolling his sleeves up over muscular forearms. He looked up at us. Janie’s Aunt Ada wrapped her thin lips around the tiny black stir straw in her drink.

“Always worked for me,” she said, and she gave him a little wave. The bartender smiled, waved back. I pressed my glass to my reddening cheek.

Janie’s Aunt Ada hooked a finger into her jar, pulled out another ice cube, rubbed it along her collar bone.

“You’re still young,” she said. “You got time.”

Later, as I straddled the bartender in the back seat of my Pathfinder, as his mouth sucked lime and white rum from my breasts, I thought of Janie’s Aunt Ada. I thought about how far I would go to keep my knees clean.


Gabrielle Brant Freeman

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Gabrielle Brant Freeman’s poetry has been published in many journals, including Barrelhouse, One, Scoundrel Time, and storySouth. She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2017, and she won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Competition. Press 53 published her book, When She Was Bad, in 2016. Read more:

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You can purchase a copy of When She Was Bad here


If you enjoyed ‘How To Keep A Man’ leave a comment and let Gabrielle know.


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