And I’m in foggy Monterey after sweltering in SoCal. It’s funny how we can’t imagine being cold when we’re hot and vice-versa: I didn’t think I’d need socks! I’m gearing up to start teaching and sending out last minute queries and fast fiction. I’m posting a few pieces that were recently accepted in Wordriot and Flashquake below:
His forehead beads with sweat––he seems a monster now. A woman waits in the bedroom, wrapped in a sheet by the window. Her left arm bleeds, but she’s breathing. He’ll wake her when he finishes. Perhaps leave a note in the medicine cabinet. He can fix himself, independently, the American way, with dignity. He sheds tears too. Scalding hot water lines the white tub. A ritual bath to purify him.
She works in a bright fluorescent place: doughnuts and popcorn and bubblegum. Sizzles and pops and sticky cries crowd her day. Televisions blink off and on, the remote in her head’s always flashing, searching for more, more, more. Number Four works long days on her feet: liver and pot-pies and refrigeration. She has a teenage son and the younger one. Married, or sometimes says she’s married an ex-con. For now they live at his mother’s house with the kids. Motorcycles abandoned. She was pretty for a few years. Red Harleys and faces flushed with youth sped by, her voice roughened like her hands and feet. Her laugh is guttural: knowing he won’t do what he promised, but loving him just the same. For that shine in his eyes.
You’ll feel better in a few days, Vicki said, sounding like a nurse. Once I sent her herbs like hyssop and lavender, St. John the Dragon Root, magical words to recite. They didn’t help her boyfriend much. Addiction is hard to heal. She warned me.
More blood: thick and black in chunks. I had to use Kotex like high school. I burned redder clumps in his mother’s fireplace. Diane watched. The doctor sent a prescription to slow down the bleeding. It hurt. We talked about the boys.
I cut my bangs and dyed my hair maroon. John went back to the Idaho flatlands, back to work at the nuclear plant. I drew a salt circle before my fireplace, used the Seal of Solomon, invoked Adonis and Isis, burnt pungent herbs and hair. It didn’t help much. After burying my heart under blue spruce, I scorched the linoleum floor. I never did get my deposit back.