Volume 40 ~ 2017
Field of Weeds
We crawl out our window;
two sisters side by side
with only keys and a pack
A puff of smoke swirls,
The smoke traverses through
dandelions and fogs in yellow light.
Headlights illuminate the field
It shines on you,
and it shines on me.
Our hands intertwine
on the cold ground,
laughing at each other’s coughs.
The aroma of cherry pie floats through the air as an old woman works, preparing a meal for her son’s family. Which includes his wife and their child, Alissa. All her life she had wanted to be the grandmother that made the kids cupcakes and played barbie dolls. Awaiting their arrival, she slides the turkey into the oven and sets the timer.
In the distance she hears her phone ring. She walks to her bedroom and picks up her son’s call.
“Hello.” For a few moments all she hears is his crying.
Finally her son speaks, “Alissa is in the hospital.”
Crumbling inside, the woman asks, “What happened?”
“We got into an accident,” he says crying, “Alissa’s seat belt broke and she rolled in the back of the car.”
She takes a deep breath then asks, “Are you okay?”
She gets no response, but his heavy sobs are enough of an answer. The tears barely let her speak but she wants to comfort her son so she asks, “Do you remember those lullabies I used to sing you?”
“Of course I do, I have to go; the doctor just came out.”
The phone clicks off before she gets to say goodbye and that she loves him. Alone on her bed she comforts herself by singing her favorite lullaby, Jesus Loves Me. It echoes through the house.
The timer beeps and beeps but she only sings louder. After her voice gives out, she moves to shut the hand-held timer off . She presses the off button and throws the timer on the ground. She lays on the cold kitchen tile and sings herself to sleep: Jesus loves me, this I know…
Drops of water glisten on the grass, but soon the heat evaporates them. It’s hot, almost too hot to be lying on the beach, but Gwen, in a vintage bikini lays on a tan towel.
Two months ago, her doctor said, “You have skin cancer.” The sun’s sickness spreads into Gwen’s skin. She’s attached to the light and to her toned body.
The disease, those words, skin cancer, did not affect the way she lived. Everyday she went into the sun and everyday she came back a shade darker and a day closer.
She opened her eyes and saw that the sun was no longer above her but out on the sea. Looking to the horizon, Gwen watched the sun go down.
Down by the docks,
a man stops then walks then slides and slips.
His head pounds the sheet of ice and splits.
Getting up, he plants his boots in the earth.
On his feet the man feels nothing,
not even the wind that freezes faces
and eats fingertips.
He wipes the cold snot from his nose.
His hands stained with red reminding him of home.
His home where he could splash in puddles with his red rain boots.
The man covers his wound,
he falls to the fresh white snow
and sees nothing but black.
“A donkey was shoved through a gate and tagged with the number eleven,” my therapist read from a green notebook. I opened my eyes; she sat in a leather seat, grinning. She was reading to calm me down but she had chosen the wrong book.
“Eleven. Number Eleven,” I spat. Her smile turned to a frown and I repeated again, “Eleven. Number Eleven.” My therapist handed me a piece of paper with the words A donkey was shoved through a gate and tagged with the number six.
I screamed and flung the paper into the air. “No! No! No! My brothers, all eleven of them were sent into the sixth infantry,” I yelled. I jumped up and down, angry at all the things that brought me here.
I moved to the middle of the room and stared at the white walls. All the furniture faded away. The room was shaped into my cell at the asylum. Was I going psychotic again? I couldn’t keep the water of my life in the dam any longer so I let it overflow onto my therapist’s shoulders.
“I used to be in an asylum,” I chuckled, “They thought I was crazy.” The furniture focused back into my view and I turned to my therapist.
I stared into her eyes and said “I got out because my father said he’d take care of me but he was the one that needed help. He was the reason I was in an asylum. All of his store bought jam drove me up a wall. That drunk never did anything but drink up every drop of liquor on earth.” I tried to drown out the memory of him but he stuck in my head.
Faintly, I heard the woman say, “Where is your father now?’’ I was set off by the question, and I pounded my head with my fist and pulled my hair. I wouldn’t answer.
I dropped to the floor and rolled while I shook my head. “I won’t ever tell you. You don’t get to know.” I stopped rolling and looked at the terrified expression spread across the woman’s face. She looked so innocent, even though she has heard about how people slit their wrists and abused others, but my story was different. I longed to tell her the things that could ruin every part of her innocence.
I came to the conclusion that it’d be great for her to know the answer so I scooted across the floor close to her. I leaned and whispered, “He’s dead.”
Her face was flushed and her eyebrows raised wrinkling her forehead, ready to ask me the question I was preparing for. “How did he die?”
Instead of whispering, I yelled so she couldn’t miss my words, “I killed that arrogant drunk man. Yes, yes! I killed my father.” Horrified she leapt from the couch and ran for the door.
“Wait, Please,” I pleaded. She let go of the door knob and faced me. “I had to do it though, I had to slit my father’s throat with the blades of a razor because he never loved us. I killed him because of the jam and because I never loved him.” She opened the door then slammed it shut behind her.
Heat of a Huddle
The sun of the long, humid day had slowly started to fall behind the horizon of trees. I poured some drinks, made some treats, and decided to party into the night. It wasn’t summer yet but with no school and 90 degree weather, it felt like summer days. This year had brought no precipitation but much humidity. I stood by the window watching the last rays of sunshine disappear and my street go to sleep.
The doorbell rang, echoing down the narrow hall. A field of butterflies danced in my stomach and I flung open the door to let my guests enter my house. Joel, Allan, Revah, and Zoey found their way over to the granite counter where I had set out a variety of refreshments. Before Joel’s mom drove away she yelled to him, “ I’ll be back at twelve.” As time passed more than twenty of my friends filed through the doorway and made the chattering grow louder. The tight walls of my home made the noise unbearable.
I couldn't handle the babbling group so I pushed everyone outside. In my backyard, we laid and admired the stars and the glowing moon. My friends’ faces lost shape when a cloud covered the moon.
A downpour of teeth chattering rain fell upon us. The wind picked up and it became even colder. We ran to my back door but it was locked. We huddled together. In the huddle to my right was my best friend, Sara. Her smile radiated and I felt her warmth. Joey, was on my left put his arm around my shoulder. I smiled at him and he smiled back. Even with rain drenching our clothes, we smiled and giggled.
Leah laughed and began telling us a joke, “What do you call someone who doesn’t fart in public.” She paused for a moment and then bursted out, “A private tutor.” We laughed at the stupid joke. All of us, in the huddle, took turns telling jokes and by twelve we had laughed so much that our stomachs were tight. One by one, I watched my friends splash through the puddles and drive away down the street.