Skin like white typing paper. Blue veins shouting from a thin layer of translucent flesh, pulsing from aqua to purple. Eyes as ambivalent as the sky on a hazy, sunny day.
From the moment of her birth, she wore layer upon layer of cotton. At first, her parents simply wrapped her in blankets, with gauze around her face. Then, her grandmother on her father’s side made special outfits — always out of black cotton, trimmed with embroidered violets. The black, her grandmother reasoned, would give her more protection than any other color. The flowers…they were just her grandmother’s favorite.
The tree had been struck by lightning several times a year for decades.
Or, so that’s what everyone in the town said.
Limbs gnarled and roots craggy, weaving into and around each other, rocks and animal bones swallowed into its timber, it had the presence of a great fighter, confident and tough, willing to battle to the death. A freak conjoined sextuplet, its trunks were braided with deep, unclosed wounds; splintery tunnels that seemed to travel well below the surface of the earth. War torn as its body was, disfigured as its bark appeared, no matter how its knotty, mangled…
As dawn’s light began to seep in below the door, her stomach churned. Freedom was all too brief.
Every night, time wound down quicker than the night before. Every day, time crept slower than the day before. And here she was, frozen in the moment between night and day, watching daylight grow, her time shrink.
Frozen. She wished she could freeze time. Could freeze night. Maybe freeze space, so she could walk across time and space back to the day before she was behind the door.
The light was blinding now as she left her eyes staring at the thin…
Meth was the best thing to happen to homemade hemorrhoid cream since hemorrhoids were invented, Aunt T’d proclaim time and again as she crushed tiny, red pills with her pestle. Meth and Kim K.
Before meth, that real pseudo-ephedrine was easy to come by. But no one could get the fake kind — the kind that doesn’t do nothing for your cold, but does make hemorrhoids shrink faster than a bull’s balls in a blizzard. Aunt T’s cream, she called it Blue Ridge Gold, relied on that fake kind.
Before Kim K, people who used Aunt T’s cream just used…
The air began to soften, filling the room with a glorious tingling that put everyone at ease. Perhaps a shared hallucination or maybe the presence of otherworldly beings, none were ever sure. But the family knew this moment, this feeling would be coming, as it did everytime one of them was about to die.
Jason went to the mantle in the living room and from it took an ancient, impenetrably thick, cobalt blue glass jar and brought it to Josephine.
For centuries, perhaps longer, the jar had been in the Continens family. Dense like heavy ceramic, splintering webs of age…
When they met, she did that thing — Lacey was smoking back then and she pulled out a cigarette and, while she searched the bar for a lighter, Chris came out of nowhere and lit it. Like she was a superhero swooping in to rescue Lacey when she didn’t even see the train was coming.
That should have been the signal for Lacey: she didn’t see the train was coming because Chris was the train, not the superhero. There are no superheroes, right?
Doesn’t matter now. That night at the bar, Lacey felt Chris move in slowly and intently. First…
The balls spun, twirled, whirled, and drifted down to land, a yellow one in a gull’s mouth, the others resting on the bottom. Inez pushed the fat, white button again, bubbles gurgled upward into the water, sending the balls pirouetting haphazardly toward the gulls.
“Inez!” Sandra yelled. “Enough, already! It’s too nice out. Put the game down and go outside and play!”
“But I’m so close, Mama!” Inez huffed, belly flat on her bed, feet criss-crossing back and forth behind her, hands cradling her plastic aquarium, she willed the balls telepathically toward the gulls’ mouths. …
Back in the day, not so long ago, there was this place: it was called the closet.
All the boys who loved boys and girls who loved girls and those who loved people and boys who were actually girls and girls who were actually boys and boys and girls who were other unlabeled people, had a big part of themselves in that closet.
Their true selves were alive in that closet.
No, I can see why you thought that, but the closet wasn’t a magical place.
It was a closet; how magical can that be? Yes, I read The Lion…
“Psychopaths have it easy,” she said.
Steve spit out his coffee in a snort, “What the hell do you mean? How is being a psychopath an ‘easy’ thing?”
“They don’t feel guilt,” she snarked, emphatically shoveling a bite of pie into her mouth. “I’m thinking about becoming one.”
Blueberries dancing in his mouth, Steve replied, “Becoming what?”
“A psychopath! Aren’t you listening? You never listen…”
“Well, this pie is freaking delicious so I am having a bit of trouble paying attention to you. And, you’re basically a dolt if you think a.) you can become a psychopath and b.) …
The shutters were green. Like grass. No. More like the color of a landscaper’s truck. Two were barely holding onto the flaking rose-painted siding. The front screen door, that kept flapping open and half-heartedly whacking shut, was the same color as those shutters. She hated that shade of green. But she could hear YaYa’s voice bouncing in her brain: it’s the color of money; it’s a sign.
Directly on the highway, empty, abandoned for decades, keys in her pocket, she couldn’t be choosy. This was right. YaYa would’ve agreed. And, if the green helped her survive, then all the better.