Now Helen lifted the lamp, surprised by its weight. She needed two hands to wrestle it into the box. A sharp stabbing in her lower back made her cry out but no one was there to hear her. She got down on her knees and rubbed at her back with both hands, tears filling her eyes.
Damn you, Ed. You knew I hated this ugly thing. Twenty years I put up with it, twenty years of parties, all those embarrassing moments when our guests walked up to it, peering at the garish colors, then at me, a question in their eyes.
On this first of September, sundown rushed a draft through the practice area. Patrice pulled her papa’s old grey sweater closer. The rest of the singers had been little more than acquaintances; she immediately forgave them their small-mindedness. And she and Agnes had shared nothing beyond Thanksgiving dinner, walks home in the dark, giggles, and naïve, girlish dreams. Patrice had been caring for her mother while other girls learned the tricks to making and keeping friends. Another way in which her mother had robbed her.
She did not fumble with a card and a detached machine. Instead, she handed him a five, establishing a degree of contact, even if only through a piece of paper. He took the bill, tapped the keys on his register, forcing open the drawer. She held out her palm, spreading long fingers wrinkled and scarred by the echoing shapes of flames that once danced across her skin.
I read that when chickens are crammed too many to one pen, they’ll begin to peck one another’s eyeballs out, and this is happening in the office. There are fights over stolen lunches, there are endless complaints about the temperature, there is general malaise. We decide to expand into an adjoining space, and construction begins, or deconstruction: a wall is being removed. The sound of sawing does not improve the general mood, but I try to remind the people whom I talk to that it will be better.
Silence. A bird maybe. Not a cloud up there. I pull myself up. Shake myself off. Look around. No one has seen me. Close the gate. Kick aside the rock that kept it cracked—some secret rendezvous, no doubt. Blackie would have had your head for that back then. I do my best to look like I belong here. Like I know what I’m doing. Like I’ve paid my rent and signed my lease. No one is around; it’s early yet. These aren’t science students, they’re artists and writers and they sleep in. A plaque with famous names engraved. Gaslights. The flowers tended. The big house where the parties were…
I can see the tiny, red puncture wounds just above the left knee. I make a tourniquet of my shirtsleeve and boost him into my saddle. We ride all day and night, and when the horse collapses from exhaustion, I drape W over my shoulders in a fireman’s carry.
Laura surveyed herself in the mirror. She was wearing a knee-length navy nylon skirt, which was already beginning to chafe the skin on her thighs. And blue knee socks, black penny-loafers, a white shirt with a striped blue and white tie, and a shapeless jersey with the school crest embroidered above her left breast. And suddenly, with a ferocity of wave crashing over her, she felt a hankering for her old uniform—that soft cotton dress in its gingham check with the white collar and short sleeves—and her vision swam.
The TV dinners had started to cook, the turkey slabs awakening from their cryogenic sleep. Fumes of corn syrup, yeast, monosodium glutamate, rendered chicken fat, onions, and giblet gravy filled the kitchen with a sad, brown smell.
Krista Mangulsone photo *** Right on Through By Christopher Dungey lennie Milford rolled to a sitting position on the lumpy rooming-house mattress. A twinge of the North Korean shrapnel lodged behind his...
That room was by far the worst we had ever been in. It was like a big fucking sad face — the same kind that I would doodle over and over on my twenty minutes timed math test.
“Good morning, Doctor,” a familiar voice said as the jogger reached the platform. Roland Landolt, bundled up thickly against the freezing air, stepped quickly behind the man he had greeted, blocking the stairs. High over his head, he held a long-handled ax with a shiny blade.
MOTHER’S DRESSER by Rosalia Scalia In the evening, after dinner, the grownups drink espresso laced with Sambuca or anisette, the aromas of licorice, of anise, of coffee rising up like extended fingers and mingling with whiffs of garlic, tomato, and basil, remnants...
There are no windows in his office. There is no fireplace. A dim light on his desk. A lamp in the corner. A necklace of shrunken heads atop a humidor beneath it. Add a mounted boar’s head on the wall and it’d be the perfect setting for formal introspection. A safe, sterile place to see and feel everything, to unwrap each emotion I’ve ever felt as if they were gifts to be opened on the most sunny and beautiful day of the year, which also happens to be Christmas.
My destination was yet another church – Lawton had its saints as well as its sinners – a few blocks away. The church basement space was run-down, with a cracked linoleum floor and a water fountain so dry that not even Moses could coax liquid out of it. Members of the Peace Committee, some of them old enough to have changed Moses’ diaper, milled around with cups of coffee.
The Seal by Karen Fayeth Amid the noise of family chatter around the dinner table, Sakari ate quietly and took small bites while her little brother, Nattiq, scooped mounds of fermented fish into his face. “Slow down,” she quietly admonished. He shrugged in...
“I have a fourteen-year-old daughter,” said Jimmy. His jaws flexed and his face flamed red, the headmaster’s exact reaction, until he broke character and laughed. He glanced down at Cooper’s paperwork. “I don’t need to read any of this. ‘Penis,’ that’s priceless! Their mouths dropped open, huh? Just involuntary?”
THE ALTAR by Phyllis Carol Agins ella knows what she is running from. One failed marriage, two dramatic love affairs. A third abortion that was almost too late when she might be tempted, at...
She listened until she could hear the objects in the room hum. The gilt plates, impressed with hunting scenes from the Shahnameh, hummed a rich bass. The archeologists had gasped when they saw she’d set the table with them. They’d put on their gloves so the oil from their hands wouldn’t touch the gold, and rushed them back to her father’s study, and closed the glass over them.