“Dead Mother’s Corn Oil” by Diane Payne

Long Distance Lover was happy I finally agreed to spend time at his dead mother’s cottage in the middle of nowhere.  I already lived in the middle of nowhere.  After making the 850-mile drive to spend a week or two with him at his house in a real town, with real things to do, I dreaded heading out to the place where he longed to retire.  Ahh, her teapot wallpaper in the kitchen.  Ooh, the moldy carpet in the living room.  Woo, the surprising amount of kitschy lighthouses though we were nowhere near the lake.  Then the biggest surprise.  His dead mother’s old king-sized bed.  I knew she died at home and hoped it wasn’t on this bed. “I remembered what you said about lubricant,” he said, coaxing me to the bed. The plastic, mostly empty bottle of his dead mother’s corn oil, was awaiting me on the bedside table.  I knew this romance would be over long before either of us retired.


“Dead Mother’s Corn Oil” first appeared in XRAY Literary Magazine, 2019.

IMAGE: Edvard Munch “Mann og kvinne” (Man and Woman), 1898. Oil on Canvas. 60.2 x 100 cm. Rasmus Meyer Collection, Bergen, Norway

Diane Payne

Diane’s most recent publications and forthcoming include: Best of Microfiction2022, Abandon Journal, Cutleaf, Another Chicago Magazine, Whale Road Review, Pine Hills Review, Tiny Spoon, Ellipsis, Bending Genres, New York Times, Unlikely Stories,, Hot Flash Fiction, The Blue Nib, anti-heroin chic, X-ray Literary Magazine, Oyster Review, Novus, Notre Dame Review, Obra/Artiface, Reservoir, Southern Fugitives, Spry Literary Review, Watershed Review, Superstition Review, Windmill Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Quarterly, Fourth River, Lunch Ticket, Split Lip Review, The Offing, Elke: A little Journal, Punctuate, Outpost 19, McNeese Review, The Meadow, Burnt Pine, Story South, and Five to One. 


Twitter:  @zebedol
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Megan Anderson

I love the tone of this piece! The situation you set up made me cringe for the narrator.

Fran Turner

Long distance from being a lover that one! I will never look at corn oil the same.

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