Ever After This Day

Since my eyes are not blackened I can see so much more. I see the sobbing coming from Bonnie’s classroom. It is coral and curved like an undersea animal blooming in the sand. A thousand colors hidden in the absence of sunlight.

Even Still

A black bear – not too big, with a golden snout and shiny gold eyes. Was I that close? Close enough to feel the bear’s hot breath? Something in the shared glance and glare took me close. Closer. If I had wanted to, I could have sidled up and touched the animal.

The Bog-Ridden Boy

When the man pulled the body from the bog, it had been flattened like a bear skin rug and carried the consistency of damp glue. Perhaps the fen had done this to the boy, or perhaps it was solely a carrier. They won’t want to see their boy like this, the man thought, and thusly collected the dripping anatomy into his fertilizer bucket.

All the Better For You

She wrote about the man who sold balloons in the train station, how one of them floated off and got trapped against the ceiling, a balloon that read Congratulations! She told her the outside world was cruel and boring. She signed the letter Your Friend Forever.

Shadow

They say you can’t compare people’s suffering, but Rhiannon’s personal apocalypse is objectively stupid. Which somehow makes it more devastating. That someone with enough money and a nice fiancé and a flamingo shirt could be sad enough to turn herself inside out like this.

Perceptor Weekly

I write that down and think of Tony perceiving all this. Will he wonder why we went outside to watch a string be cut in two? Will he understand the symbolism? Will his report to whomever convey a sense of community and perseverance? Will he understand why the drinks aren’t included?

Cautionary Distances

She said that she’d like to go out to the lake in the afternoon and she pouted her lips and blew Richard a kiss and he pretended to follow it slow and long across the room and watched it fall into his cupped hands and when he looked up Elaine was just shutting the door.

Beautiful Dreamers

Her mouth folds down, that puppet face of hers, eyes sad and pleading, yet she raises the empty point of gun to his chest. You know, she says, but I have such an incredible urge to shoot you.

The Pink Trailer with the Flower Boxes

Melvin’s had that rotten glob of stuck-together maraschino cherries plucked right out of his chest and thrown back into the dump. But still, he would give Denise the Astroturf right off his back. He is an avid reader of love letters, and he once tied one of his own, for Denise, to a pigeon’s leg—a difficult task given that he has no viable hands for writing or tying knots.

Attachments

In high school, no girl would date them—the conjoined twins who required special seating at the back of the classroom. Who never grew adept enough at matching one another’s stride to be athletic. Who struggled with conversation for the sheer fact that any attempt at talking to another person was uneven, and they would talk over and around one another in an effort not to be the third wheel.

Bottomless Sounds

A woman I haven’t seen before walks through the door and demands my attention. She is taller than a medium-sized person. She is a lioness. A redheaded delight. Her lips take up her entire face. They’re red and I want to kiss them, bite them, and stick them in the pocket of my jeans.

A Constant Emptying

I ran all the way home, my backpack bouncing and smacking me in the small of my back. I fell breathless on the couch, turned on the TV, and stayed there until the nightly news came on. The man’s body had washed ashore. The paramedics didn’t know if he’d died before or after he’d gone over Niagara Falls.

Leashed

Things around me tend to die. People, plants, relationships…you name it. My father killed by a hit-and-run driver when I was eighteen, my mom with breast cancer a year later. I’ll spare the details, other than to say that this past summer my husband and I lost what would have been our first child.

Like Disaster

The news suggests that acid rain is to blame. Years of acid rain falling unchecked, seeping into the ground and doing what acid does, eating away at everything it touches. Scientists point to plastic models, removable chunks revealing concavities in the earth, the surface too thin to support what’s on top.

These Are My Dress Clothes

I could be a shutter, about to fall off its hinge and be consumed by feral shrubbery. Start a new life as a rotting piece of wood. Natallie raises her fist to knock, but the door opens. He looks like someone who once sold bathrobes in a plaza. Long, red, veiny hair combed over a blonde face.