First there was a smaller sail out on the water. And then there wasn’t any sail, as if it had been erased. Bartholomew Bagnalupus did not blink at the contradiction his eyes gave him. There were things like mist and eye spots and vacuums of sight. Been there, had that, he thought, as he swung his short-handled curled pitchfork into the earth of Mussel Flats. Another bucket of worms he’d have before the tide would drive him off the flats.
I am looking at your wedding pictures. I am looking at you, looking at her in her big white dress, the way you used to look at me on a Friday night. I am looking at you smiling and happy, happier than you were with me. I am looking at you taking your vows before God, head bowed, eyes closed, and in a church with bright colored windows. I am looking at you holding her hands and she is looking at you. She is in love - so are you.
by Tracy Hauser
Ariel shuffled through the pile in the box and she laid them out like the Celtic cross, scenes in different positions meant fates for her at this time. The photographs’ borders, cut from scrap scissors, exposed a man with a delinquent frame, bad posture, leaning behind a wooden coaster after a carnival. At that moment the refrigerator pushed water through its filter and then the dog clawed to be let in from the other side of the sliding doors. Ariel kicked at Mona’s other messes by the carpet, Mona’s handkerchief and the shots of Charlie Chaplin with a handlebar mustache, living in Germany. And she put them away eventually, back in the plastic pull-out drawer where she kept them when the father was away. She shut the bi-folding doors and she left to be made-up for the main street.
The Hearthstone Party was held in a township hall a few miles from Nicolet City. I’d received an invitation in the shape of a teacup covered with the names of door prizes from two women I’d gone to high school with.
After three bingo games played with Indian corn markers in Blue Bonnet and Parkay Oleo tubs, a peanut butter pail with paper was passed around. I got one penciled VANITY and received a Pepto-Bismol pink plastic grinning Buddha sprouting spines to hold jewelry, and duly smiled when the women around me said, “Oh, isn’t that pretty,” “My, aren’t you lucky, “I can just see that on my dresser.” After more bingo, the peanut butter pail was passed again and I traded it for cookie cutters with the woman who’d said, “I can just see that on my dresser.”
Margo wanted to be an astronaut beginning at age three, but she couldn’t because she was a girl, and females could only be cosmosnauts. Rather than join the ranks of those fools, she settled on being a time liaison when she graduated advanced school.
by Tracy Hauser
The Man was foaming at the mouth at her vibrating along with him, from his electric toothbrush, in his dirty mouth. Her picture, fitted in the wall mounts of his reflection, showed the cement community park, chained in by a wraparound fence. In it, were five-year-olds nagged two Septembers ago, to kneel on the recess mulch, hiding the leather trim of Miss Sindy’s sear-sucker skirt. Behind her was his high-rise, with the pale-lozenge molding covering the second and third floor brick work. His apartment could magnify easily the black elementary name plate, stained from split rain gutters tarnishing its intentions, with run-off.
No matter how many times Lewis told his twelve-year-old son, Wendell, to stay off of the creek rock walls on the west side of the farm, it never failed that when Lewis found himself there, creek rock had fallen on both sides of the wall.
We were all ready, hundreds of us, lost in a sea of camouflage that spanned the enormous hangar floor, each clinging to a duffel bag stuffed to bursting with field gear, body armor, gas masks, last wills and testaments. All the things we would need in Afghanistan. The hangar doors were cranked open to reveal a grim, gray morning. Many of the assembled airmen had spilled out onto the tarmac, their bodies lying flat and motionless, like dead fish washed up on a sunless beach. Even more stood clustered around a nearby smoke shack. In the distance, C-130 transports lumbered around the flightline, providing a constant buzz and blur of propellers.
Idle hands or minds (I can’t remember which) are the devil’s workshop. My mom used to tell me that frequently. Years later I found that what she was really worried about was boredom. Boredom always led me down the road to mischief and usually resulted in some inappropriate behavior on my part, and she knew that.
Such was the case at my mother-in-law’s funeral. Now bear in mind that I had nothing against my mother-in-law and she never did anything to or against me so my behavior at the ceremony had nothing to do with her in particular. She was completely without sin and did not prompt what I did during that solemn time. I did what I did because I was bored.
by Jon Bishop
Ten days before Christmas, Alex saw her father, standing behind the home goods aisle, slip a stack of embroidered dish towels into his coat pocket. She felt a tinge of shock slowly ooze through her veins and out of her pores. She shivered. She moved closer to her father, rotating her head to look at the bright, celebrity-endorsed linens, among other items. He still stood some distance away, yet she noticed the sinful glisten of sweat.
Barely above a whisper: “Dad?”
Her father didn’t hear. She rumbled and coughed to clear her throat; and he jumped, then saw it was his daughter.
“Alex! Uh, hi. Sorry. Didn’t see you standing there.” The towels bulged within his coat, like a growth or a tumor or a fat belly. They made their presence felt immediately, like hearts under floorboards.