You kept me busy with the April Short Shorts section; I was impressed not only with the number of submissions, but with their high quality. They were fantastic. And bleak. Death skulks through these stories (at times resembling life), leaving survivors injured and alone: Death, like all borders, is at once calculating and ambiguous.
Please keep submitting your stories. As always, I’m looking for works around 250 words so that I have enough room for multiple stories. — Lyle Rosdahl
She throws her head back and contemplates every inch, her body an electric curve: the aerodynamics of lust. It’s always like this. Afterward, we exist for a few moments in a tangle of heightened nerves and slick limbs upon the bedclothes. I frequently imagine that the breeze from the ceiling fan gets caught in our sweaty skin like some delicate animal that followed the pulse of the world and ended up in lonely death.
There’s a cresting sorrow in the rhythm of our love now: the unexpurgated truth of it, the too-much aching, and the sudden tremble. Her face has become a remote twist of innumerable emotions that have wafted away from me on an air of familiar contempt, of ennui, of indifference, into the interstitial void to which her heart and mine so desperately cling. We started off as individuals, but in our independent quests for originality, ended up the same, and somehow, strangely, loathed each other for it.
I try reaching out to her from across the chasm of my own withdrawal, in the darkness of our extinguished expectations, but my hands return empty and ache all the more for the effort.
So here we lie beneath the fan. Here we lie beneath the assumption of love — in silence, in pain — waiting for an appropriate time, cupping the velvet distress of our bodies.
There is so much goddamned food. It’s as if the food is going to resurrect someone, something. Shoveling fried chicken and pizza and meals doled from large bags that hamburger joints only bring out for these occasions. The rest of it all is blank. Whiskey, long periods of staring at the television not absorbing a damn thing. I knew what I was going to say for a long time. It wasn’t a mystery or a surprise. But the words seemed so trite and couldn’t express the destruction that I felt. The soft bugle. The cracking reports. The palpable anguish that emanated from everyone. I still wasn’t ready. And now it seems vulgar to move on.
I can see them below, sitting among the river reeds, watching the brown water meander south, indifferent to its course. They’re looking above and watching the sandaled tourist loaded with cliché curiosities and bagged items they haggled and purchased with an arrogant dollar.
They’re watching the ducks burst from the river’s surface and land on a manicured golf course fifty yards east. They’re watching the river turtles sink into the murky depths and rise where ever they choose; some sun themselves along the American bank. They’re watching and wondering how some could be endowed with such good fortune, and feeling cheated about the fact they were born so close, but yet so far.
He has no clue. One day he will have to be responsible. Today it was all about the color yellow. And about a new sweet scent he discovered, a raspberry candle. He proudly completes puzzles throughout the day. No worries. Just peanut butter smeared on sliced apples. And playing with old bottle caps in the dirt and enjoying the simplicity of the rain. But the day would come. He would have to get a job, and pay rent in an overpriced apartment or house. Where though? Would he be content? Would he have someone by his side? At the moment, he rolls around aimlessly on the floor with a pillow. He giggles. He kicks his blocks in the air. He has a cunning smirk on his face. Poor little guy. He has no idea that eventually he will have to face this cruel world.
I was three.
It was Good Friday and grandma wanted hot cross buns. We ate in the hospital parking lot as grandma took some to grandfather. She returned before I finished licking the crucifix off the top.
“Grandfather just went to heaven.”
“Can I see him?”
“No, he’s in heaven.”
The next few days I heard muffled sobs coming from grandma, parents, aunts and uncles as they talked and laughed into the wee hours of the morning. There was food involved.
“He’s in heaven with Jesus, mother Mary and Joseph.”
“What’s he doin’?”
“He’s at a party with Jesus.”
“Can I see him?”
“What did they DO with him?”
“Have an Oreo,” Grandma offered.
I tearfully took the cookie to my room and placed him on the windowsill where I slept.
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