Matthew Teutsch
6 min readJul 10, 2022

A few months ago, Jadyn DeWald asked me to participate in a reading on campus. I debated reading something about Frank Yerby or Lillian Smith; however, I chose, instead, to write a short story. Below is the story that I wrote. It is entitled “Paper.”

The numbers, crookedly locked up in an invisible column in the middle of the page against a sea of white, added up to $1,024. Nothing except the individual cost of each item and the overall tabulation stared up at me from the scrap of paper he handed me at the end of our transaction. I took the paper and folded it neatly, placing it into my coat pocket. No telling when someone may stop me and ask, “Are those yours?” I had to keep the receipt on me until I could label them as my own.

When I saw the advertisement for the sale in the paper a few weeks ago, I knew I had to be there, so I came into town specifically for these items and I’d be damned if anyone thought they could take them away from me because I didn’t have that proof tucked neatly in my pocket. This was the largest sale in the region, and everyone came to it, driving in from all over the river valley. I saw people I hadn’t seen in ages gathered around waiting for the auctioneer to pound that gavel and get the festivities underway.

I went wanting to take seven or eight of the items home with me, but I only ended up with five. Not bad, but not quite what I’d hoped for. Nevertheless, these five would work out just fine, aiding me in the various tasks around the property. I couldn’t do anything without the tools I’d won in town.

“What box do you want?” “The third one from the left.”

I rearranged some things for the trip home, moving some boxes around so I could fit everything I needed to fit. Thankfully, no one stopped to interrogate me about my recent purchases. I thought for sure some no good nosy person would try and stick their snout into my business and inquire where I picked up such fine wares. People merely stared. One woman, as I passed, looked angrily at me and my newly acquired goods. It took every fiber of my being to keep from yelling at her, but I maintained my Christian composure and merely turned the other cheek.

Deacon bolted out of the house as I turned down the lane. “What did you bring me, papa?” he inquired.

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.