The prairie is vast, flax seed blooming from your toes to the horizon. Blue touching blue, a union. Incurable sweetness in your lungs. This would be a good death, you think. It’s peaceful. It’s pure.
But you move on.
The challenge of a hill and the pleasure of a valley – the arc between your shoulder blade and spine – marks a preferred route through the blazed trees. There’s pleasure in a climb. Your lungs sigh with exertion. Not all labor is toil, you say as your calves grow lean and strong and your back straightens towards the sun.
This part of the walk always gives me the creeps, but my dog pulls behind the circle of apartment houses, back at the edge of the creek, with no regard for my fears. Animals are supposed to be more attuned to the spirit world, right? So if there’s something out there, she would know. This is what I tell myself as she takes a leisurely squat next to the loquat. I ready a plastic bag, and just as it closes around the warm excretion steaming into the night air, I hear it. Click. Whiff.Continue reading →
We reincarnate as beasts more and more cruel. Each pass through fate’s transmogrifier sharpens our claws, sour hunter’s instincts. Why say goodbye when I’ll see you again, your canines extended down below your jaw? Fur matted, dripping blood either yours or mine. It makes no difference. They’re practically the same now. We’re practically the same dumb beasts, playing on inherited senses. Driven by the compulsion to bite, kill, feed. I feel the coiling of your limbs burning in my own sinew, can sense your strike but not prevent it. Then around again through kill, rebirth. Wicked jaws bared, murders stacked.
He was a bullet swiftly guided through the azure pool. Twenty feet down and his chest tightened like a hammer pulled back to click. This was the farthest he’d dove since childhood, when dares were innocent and stakes unknown. Continue reading →
She remembered the feeling, like drinking cold water too fast. Unsure if it’ll come back up, but regretting the indulgence that led to this moment. Gut full of guilt. Why did she always overreact when it came to Liam? Why wasn’t she allowed to be happy? These are the questions ghosts will ask you when you’re down, when you’ve slept the night in your closet then schlepped to work still hungover, eyes weighty and puffed. The haunted body hurts, rumbling in the joints, ice pick in the stomach. Sylvia crossed the bridge and thought of Noah, nice Noah who had thought to invite her anywhere.
Because a gulf of time surrounds me, I sit at a coffee house across from the trains to await departure. Each engine roars into the station with a wash of passengers, comings and goings. Fresh surf. The wave rumbles. Then they’re gone. And I wait, and wait, my nose in latte foam. Jealous for their oceans, impatient for my own.
Brad was an explorer born six centuries too late. He’d known this from childhood, staging naval battles in the bathtub. Trading pinecones and beads with his action figures. But at forty-six there were no new worlds to conquer, save the mysterious space where paper jammed in the office copier. So Brad set out in his dingy boat, looking for a land to call his own. Continue reading →
Sylvia had all the next day to talk herself out of the party. As sun set, she sucked on menthols and paced the balcony shared with the other smokers on her side of the building. It had a view of a brick wall. Inspiring.
“Sorry.” Her fingers grazed my back. I’d forgotten that feeling, like kittens climbing your spine and curling in your throat. Warm and matted and mewling. Disgusting, if you think about it. Who thinks about it at the time? Kittens in your throat. That’s gross.Continue reading →