September 6, 2013 by The Citron Review

by Suzanne Farrell Smith


The evening our father died, my sisters and I did something we were not normally allowed to do: watch television. Mom preferred that we crochet and play school before bed. Debbie remembers red flannel “jammies” with white plastic feet that made her toes sweaty. I like to think of our feminine foursome in matching nighties, soft and pale pink with flowers.

I wonder if I felt excited to be shuttled into that February night, along the dirt path, and through the pachysandra patch to the neighbor’s house, where we ate Spaghetti-O’s, according to Tammy, and watched television, according to all. I remember that part. The show was Knight Rider: “A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist.” In February 1983, the show was over halfway through its inaugural season. It was a Monday, and new Knight Rider episodes aired on Friday nights, so perhaps NBC was showing a rerun of the latest installment, “The Topaz Connection.”

I purchase Knight Rider and skip ahead to “The Topaz Connection.” The publisher of a men’s magazine is murdered. Michael Knight and his sleek supercar, KITT, head to Vegas to investigate. Miss November plays a role—topaz is November’s birthstone, something my father and I shared. The dead man’s daughter, the standard love interest, sums up the episode:

“Glamour and sex. Fashion and sex. Cars and sex!”

On the screen: a supposedly dead ex-cop and indestructible supercar on a grisly but glitzy investigation. Watching: four little girls, in jammies or nighties, waiting at the neighbor’s while their mother is told by a cop and a priest details of their father’s death. KITT could sustain impact at top speeds, destroying the other guy without receiving a scratch. My dad’s small gold Honda stood no chance against the drunk driver’s oncoming car.

My sisters and I remember the red lights on the “mouth” of the talking car known as KITT. We differ in how we recall Mom’s phrasing of the terrible news. But after thirty years, none of us has forgotten those lights. To us, watching the show, watching television at all, had been as strange as the strangers at the door.

I tell my sister Beth I am trying to remember the night our father died. “Mom knew the minute she opened the door,” she says. “But I thought, it’s a mistake. He’s just hurt or asleep, not dead. I thought that until I saw him in the casket.”

“You saw him?”

“We all did. We drew pictures to put in there. We gave him flowers, too. Don’t you remember? We wore matching cranberry-colored velvet jumpers with ruffles along the straps. I remember placing my picture next to him.”

My sisters say I’m lucky that I don’t remember. His skin looked like silly putty, they tell me. His knucklebones, pronounced.

After the funeral our mother put us to bed and lay down on the porch, where she would sleep for many years, her only company the blaring television.


Suzanne Farrell Smith’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Post Road, PANK, Anderbo, The Monarch Review, Hippocampus Magazine, and elsewhere. She holds an MA from The New School for Social Research and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches college writing and runs an editing business in New York City, where she lives with her husband and son. 

One thought on “Television

  1. […] short but significant excerpt from my manuscript appears in the Fall 2013 issue of The Citron Review, live today. Citron is a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Snow on brush in desert

IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

🍋Our Tenth Anniversary


    Cheers to ten years of celebrating the short form.


🍋 Instagram

Winter will soon come to a close and everyone's crying! We trust Paul Beckman to reveal a trail through it all. Paul Beckman’s fourth short story collection is Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press), was a finalist for the 2019 Short Story Indie Book Awards. He was one of the winners of @bestsmallfictions 2016. He won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2016 from Fiction Southeast, and was in the #WigleafTop50. His stories have appeared in @jellyfishreviewig, @spelkfiction, @litromedia, @pankmagazine, Lost Balloon and many others. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB Bar & @kgblitjournal. #amreading #flashfiction
Don't cry...or maybe do. A deeper look at our saltiest moments with Denton Loving's "The Topography of Tears." Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collection Crimes Against Birds and editor of Seeking Its Own Level, an Anthology of Writings about Water. His writing has recently appeared in @lunchwithironhorse, @kenyonreview, #ChattahoocheeReview and #TheThreepennyReview. #amreading #creativenonfiction
US President George Washington rode a horse, of course. So we are recognizing this President's birthday with our Winter Issue story, "The Farrier, by Lisa Tuininga. Lisa Tuininga writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She holds a BA in English Literature from DePaul University and has studied at Seattle’s literary center, @hugohouse. Her work has appeared in @belletristmagazine , Adanna Literary Journal, @sharkreeflit, and others (under pen name Lisa Regen) and she is working on her first novel. #amreading #amsubmitting
Whether you celebrate V-Day or you're anti-V-Day, we all have laundry to do. Kris Willcox's work is in publications including The Cimarron Review​, @beloitfictionjournal , and @PDXReview. #amreading #flashfiction #litmag
Dive deep into some #flashfiction with @elpattee. Emma Pattee’s writing has been published in @nytimes and @carvecommunity and is forthcoming in @marieclairemag. She was a 2019 AWP Writer-to-Writer mentee and leads the Portland chapter of Women Who Submit. She is currently working on a novel.
We review the debut Cathy Ulrich collection Ghosts of You (@okaydonkeymag) We're over the moon with ZEST. #amreading #flashfiction

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new issues by email.

%d bloggers like this: