A Lemon in the Cattail Weeds


Our short story of the week is a story about protection by J. Federle.

J. Federle was born and raised in Kentucky and earned an MA in nineteenth-century poetry in England⁠. When she writes, Romanticism meets the US south, Gothic and Greek imagery fusing with folk-tale humour. Her years in Peru, married to a supportive Limeño, have improved her Spanish, if not her ability to dance.

Federle started submitting her creative writing in 2018, thanks to the fantastic AWLC Writers’ Group in Lima, Peru. She has since had short stories published in The Saturday Evening Post, The NoSleep Podcast and The Sunlight Press; her story in The Saturday Evening Post became their most popular fiction piece of 2019. Her poetry has made it into The Threepenny Review and SCUM magazine.

A Lemon in the Cattail Weeds centres on a rescued child and her unusual new family.


‘When yer momma broke in, she didn’t realise there was a dog. It was dark out, wintertime. ’Bout three years back now. I was upstairs sleepin’, Ralph on the floor. She prob’ly thought the place was abandoned. We’re out in the butt crack a’ nowhere, wouldn’t be too strange.’

Ellie was about five, Joe guessed – though she insisted she was six when he wheedled her about picking a date to call her birthday. Age didn’t matter, but she loved making Joe stick an extra candle into her pancakes when they trialled potential dates.

Today, Ellie was on the mend after a nasty cold. Joe had spent most of yesterday wrestling her fever down, and since she’d sworn she’d feed any more apple juice and crackers straight to Ralph, he’d let her come downstairs for a proper lunch. She sat at their small kitchen table in her pillowcase nightgown, toes a few inches shy of the floor. As Joe had set about warming soup on the gas stove, she’d asked for the story.

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