THAT DEPENDS | lauren wolf
I was accustomed to split pea soup and Depends months ago, but
not to Miss B.
"Shelby! Come over here, honey, and give me some sugar."
"Miss B, I've told you before I'm Donna, and preoccupied at the moment." I rang out the sponge over Mr. Evans' shoulders. "Mind
giving us some privacy?"
"I tell you what, child, Mr. Evans doesn't know if he's in a bathtub
or ridin' a unicorn." Miss B said from the doorframe, sticking her cane
out an inch from her neighbor's head.
1 looked up at Mr. Evan's face and he blew me a snot bubble. 1
wanted my lunch break. 1 was in the clear as soon as I finished bathing
this sack of skin. I turned to see if my boss was in the hallway, and then
picked up the pace.
"Shelby, did I ever tell you about your Aunt Fey?"
"She could talk the legs off a table without ever getting to the
"This wasn't you?" I giggled to myself. Mr. Evans smacked his
"One day, a Wednesday, I know it was a Wednesday because Fey
and I were getting our hair done, but it was raining that day and I
usually don't go out in the rain because it hurts my knees because I had
surgery on them not too long ago. I think it was back in June when I
saw that Doctor. He was a fine man. Had eyes that would turn your
legs into jell-O Puddin."
1 fantasized silence and a Big Mac.
"Anyways, she's not around no more because of that accident she
had. 1 told her, Fey, you best stop driving like a bat out'a hell. But she
did and darn if she didn't crash and split her head open like a bag of
potatoes ... are you listening to me, SheIby?"
"No, Miss B, Shelby's not listening. 1 never listen. And now I'm
going to not listen as I have my lunch break. The whirl of water
gulped down the drain as 1 helped Mr. Evans out of the tub.
Miss B's face turned as purple as the age spots on Mr. Evan's scalp.
"How mature, hold your breath like a baby ...
Her face continued to turn into its self until skin and ashy eyebrows
covered her eyes. Her body shook a little, I assumed from Parkinson's
until the smell of boiled eggs and split pea soup clogged the room.
My boss poked in her head, "Smells like someone needs a little help.
Donna, change Miss B before your lunch break.
My boss was gone before I could argue. Mr. Evans made a few
grunting noises followed by a fart. "Miss B, I know you know how to
use the toilet."
"That depends, Donna, on how I feel. .. and right now I feel like not
listening. Change me."
SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN THE HOUSE | tim lynch
You said you would come find me, that
hide and seek was your favorite as a boy,
so I crinkled into the cupboard under the TV set.
Your skinny, t-ball playing bones would have fit well
in there, but the wood bruised my back and curled
my knees to my crown, my breath small and quiet as stiff flies
blanketing the windowsill. Waiting through dark, dry, wheezing
moments, dust enshrouded me like a suit of feathers,
and I imagined I was a hen, frightened of a fox scratching under
chicken wire. My breasts lipped over the nest of my thighs, and I knew
your gray nails would rattle the coop soon. Your snoring vibrated
the wood panels, shivering on my spine. When I choked on my chalky suit
and coughed, you barked, your toes touched down off the couch,
and you paused to call, "Honey?" The cupboard broke open, and
my first experience as a free woman was to fall on my palms, your shadow
etched in the trenches of the hardwood floor, and your voice - "Sorry. I
FIRST TIMES | Carlene Avalone
She had her picture-perfect version of the night staged like a movie
set in her mind. The place, the person, the smells. Things she'd say,
things he'd say. The delicate removal of clothing. The scent of sea salt
in his hair. His breath warming her neck, his lips meeting each freckle
scattered across her shoulders. It would be in the same place they'd
met, with a view of the sea.
She wasn't completely naive. She knew that reality loved to prey on
fantasies like this and turn them into sad fragments of unrealized
dreams. But it was only one night, she told herself. She could find a
way to make one night as perfect as it was in her mind.
Reality hit hard in her dorm room, a concrete-box room
surrounded by identical concrete-box rooms. The echoes of drunken
shouting slid in under the door. It was humid, muggy. Her posters
peeled away from the blue sticky tack that held them to the off-white
walls. The boy lying next to her did not smell like sea salt. He did not
have her freckle patterns memorized. The sea was miles away.
She dared herself to look around the room, catching the eyes of her
roommate's giant stuffed chimpanzee. She had not intended to have
any outside witnesses to this occasion, especially not stuffed chimps.
The two black plastic eyes stared back at her. The embroidered smile
mocked her, as if it knew. She resisted the urge to walk across the
room and turn the chimp to face the other way.
"Okay." His voice pulled her out of her staring contest with the
polyester primate. "Ready?"
Ready. She'd never known what that word really meant. It always
seemed that people definitely knew when they were not ready for
something, but "ready" was harder to judge. She felt ready ... or
maybe it was just that she had run out of reasons for why she wasn't.
Either way, the voice she heard next was hers. "Yeah. Okay."
She hadn't put too much planning into what came next. She had
figured this part would come easily, naturally. "Sorry, I'm sorry," she
said, as her body refused to be anything but awkward and unsure.
The boy sighed in frustration. "This is not a good time to say
sorry." He didn't know that her apology was less for him and more for
the dream that was now eroding in her mind. She imagined her movie
set collapsing into splinters that pricked at the insides of her eyes. No,
she would not cry. Not now.
It did not last long, and she was thankful. She slid from the clammy
sheets to the cold relief of the tile floor and scrambled in the dark for
her clothes. She walked down the hall to the concrete-box bathroom
and brushed her teeth, avoiding eye contact with the girl in the mirror.
Her shirt was inside out.
Later, as she listened to the deep breathing of his sleep, the only
thing she could think was that she couldn't wait to change the sheets in
THE WOMAN SCORNED | john kilian
Remember my ponds?-still clear
as the deep blue of summertime skies,
clear enough to see the sandy bottom,
lily pads of green, toads hopping, back
and forth like girls playing hopscotch,
enough fish to catch for sport, and still
feed families for generations, dense
forests, the scent of hickory, maple,
trees exhaling the fresh breath of pine,
families of critters scurrying
to the next open clearing.
But you went ahead and pissed thick,
chunky oil that floats atop streams,
the black urine that scribbled B.P.
You chopped down my forests
to cast up your homes,
you paved over my fields-my amber
waves of grainl=just to create
clogged side-street gutters, soggy
with newspapers and empty yellow
Wendy's cups, bricked alleyways covered,
with black and blue spray-paint graffiti.
You haven't heeded my warningsl-e-Oh,
the acid rain that peels paint from car hoods,
ever wonder about those pocked scars
on the faces of your gas-guggling
machines?-Yeahf That was me.
And have you already forgotten my close
friend, Kafrimf?-and how she surged water
through your homes, made them look like wet
cardboard boxes, half-soaked, midway to bottom.
NowI wish that not one of you,
not a single pathetic soul would have gotten away.
You've already had your last warning.
Now, then ... watch me rip up your
Comcast cable chords, like a gardener tugs
weeds in an overgrown field,
and snap your precious power lines,
between my thumb and forefinger,
like tiny brittle toothpicks;
ha-they fall so quickly now!
But, this is only the beginning my dear children.
Watch me crumble your concrete
parking garages into piles-of crushed
graham crackers that you used to eat
with puffy marshmallows around campfires,
singing songs about the beauties of Nature!
Haf-you don't have a clue what I'm capable oft
Watch me crush asphalt into pepper with the stomp
of my heell=-and toss your beloved vehicles
like the tiny matchbox cars you used to play with.
Then, watch me scatter squares of shingles,
and fling them like a deck of Tarot cards,
the Nine of Swords predicting your dark future,
an omen for a time of deep sorrow,
guilt, agony and grief