I left it by the eggs.
I can remember that.
But where the eggs are?
That I can’t remember.
An image I am trying to recreate
is masked by the rapids.
Water falling unreflective,
I think back to yesterday when Alex stole that car.
When we stole that car.
She was just paid fifty dollars
for dressing up like Lady Liberty
to lure people into a store.
Standing outside for four hours
she held a sign with an arrow
to point them in the right direction.
But no one followed it.
No one went in the whole time
she was out there.
The man who owned the store
“Worst fifty bucks I ever spent.”
But he paid her anyway.
And she was wanting to get into town
to spend it all away.
So that is why Alex found an easy target
(a car parked outside a movie theater)
and waived for me to hurry into
the passenger seat.
When we drove away she reached over
and popped open the glove box.
“Bad parents,” she said
pointing her thumb to the back
to an empty child’s car seat.
“Good parents always have snacks
for their kids,” she smiled.
For some reason this justified the crime
I felt reassured.
This world and everyone in it
can fuck off
“That is what he wrote?” Alex asked me
later at night
when we were back at my house.
She looked up from the sink
with her short, dark hair
clinging to her face after she wet it down.
I was busy with the eggs and tortillas.
“He was a shit writer,” I said.
She pouted her lips and rubbed her head
with both hands.
She asked me a personal question
that I refused to answer.
At the border of Belmont County
(the eastern border)
my house is breaking apart.
It’s a short bike ride
or a nice walk
to the river where the falls are.
That is where the image was before
it went away.
Or maybe I just lost it.
It’s one of those things that I can’t
and can only now try to recreate.
Alex walks in front of me along the path.
She is wearing jeans and her arms are crossed
behind her back.
I have the wrong type of shoes on
so my feet hurt.
The rushing sound of the falls is interrupted
by the solitude of birdsong.
It is the second Friday of the month, so that makes it Short Story Friday! Okay, I just made that up. But here is a short story.
“Who do you read, then?” She asked that night at the party as they stood outdoors on the veranda. She had a light in her eyes.
“Anyone worthwhile,” he said, trying to dismiss her and her question.
“Would you read my writings?” Hope and vanity were syrup dripping out of her mouth.
“But why not?”
“Wasn’t this question already answered?”
Seven months later he recalls this conversation upon seeing her novel on the shelf for bestsellers. He laughs silently to himself, takes a sip of his coffee from a paper cup, and moves down the aisle seeking a lost asylum.
Silver Steel Box
For the sake of reference say
there is a farmer with a track of
land four hundred acres long. He
always starts early in the morning
when the crows will pay him no
attention. Finding in the middle of
his field a box he feels alienated.
The box is silver steel with the letters
“SW” in black print. They mean nothing
to him. He hauls the box away with
his tractor as it is too heavy and too
large to lift and puts it in his barn.
He forgets about it the rest of the day.
Eats dinner, watches his wife play
cards with her friends, admiring her
nimble fingers. She smiles at him
while sipping an ice tea. She does not
like mint. The next morning the box
disappeared and in its place is a sapling.
Green leaves and buds bursting with
a multitude of color. He mistakes their
fragrance for hyssop. It is in a steel bucket,
and the letters, while still there, “SW”, are
now yellow. They still mean nothing to him.
He tells his wife who says it might be a
demon. He does not believe it can be
possible, but kisses her cheek and asks
what’s for supper. She goes outside to
check on the kids. There are figments
that sparkle about his family. Small balls
of light that dance in and out and over and
around them. His family does not see
them and say “what’s what” when he asks
them about it. He goes back to the
barn to check on his demon tree
that he does not think is a demon,
but now is also no longer a tree. Only
a black cloth bag is there now. When he
opens it, it is full of bones. White
bones, old and dry. Human. One
of them has the letters on it, “SW”,
but now they are purple. He likes
the color, but is still puzzled about
the letters. He decides to do as anyone
should with bones, and takes them
out to be buried. In the middle of his
field he digs a deep hole. He feels that
it is the proper setting. He covers them
up and goes in for the night. In bed, he
and his wife read books, make love,
and sleep until noon. He dreamt of
almonds. The night was riddled with
creeks and knocks suitable for an
old farmhouse that has been in his
family for generations. When he wakes
up and notices the time he is shocked.
So is his wife. She goes out to check
on the kids and wakes them up.
They don’t go to school that day.
He goes out to the fields where the
box was buried and finds once more
a silver steel box. All that has changed
are the letters. The letters are now
“PN”. He still does not know what that
means. He takes a swig from his flask,
bourbon, and decides to leave the box
alone. Let the seasons come to
rust it and settle into the ground
once more on its own. He sees the balls
of light that now surround the whole house.
All of his property. He feels happy, suddenly,
joyful, and lays down to watch the white and
grey clouds pass through an orange sky.