The mirror showed a reflection that wasn’t my own… “…was the last thing he thought before she drove the ice pick into his neck! Muahahahaha.” He leapt to his feet, flashlight jammed tightly under his chin, eyes blazing as he yelped and howled. The group of friends recoiled in fright, goosebumps rising, terror in their eyes.
Just inside the footpath, beyond the topiaries and gnarled roots, under the shade of the ancient oak, there sits a rotting carousel. Freewheeling, it turns as breezes pull against the cracked faces of apes and horses and my childhood favorite, the stoic tiger. My hand on the rail sends sparks through the ether. The trilling cadence of carnival nights brays at the saucer moon. Placing one foot onto the decking, I hear the groan of decades, the whimper of bony steel stretched taught beneath dark shapes and circus shadows. In the distance I hear a whinny. Was that a roar? An ape grunts and chuffs. The seal turns, his eyes roving as his slick, silvered body spins around a corroded pole. The gold leaf is peeling, like eucalyptus bark or dark chocolate curls, baring its flesh, chipped and split where small hands once gripped tight, glee and surprise rimming innocent faces.
A Tyranny of Purple
Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. I hated those goddamn clouds. The klaxons would sound, the whistles trilled, echoing down the cobbled alleyways. Windows clanged shut, doors slammed. And the world, in a matter of seconds, fell silent.
In Between the Sunflowers
If you ask the neighbors, ours is a quiet abode. And by neighbors, I mean those two magnificent, framed O’Keefe paintings that hang in the outer corridor. Those beauties twitter and chirp all day about “Our house…this” and “This hall…that.” And by quiet, I suppose that the moments of stillness that permeate the empty February or May, the months in which our front doors are latched tight, could be considered quiet. But then, I also suppose that the echo in Los Alamos the moment after the first atom bomb cleaved the earth in two was also quiet by comparison.
The Last Train to Mars
Just beyond the stratosphere, there’s a rattle. It’s not so severe that cups of Oolong tea spill and slosh onto Venetian tile floors. It’s not an earthquake quiver or the shimmy of sandy pellets in a feed processing plant. But it’s distinctive, almost irreverent, like a shudder when you awaken from a nightmare. Which is exactly what I’ve just done.
They All Ordered the Yirgacheffe
She read to him in hushed tones, her voice quavering like a burbling stream. The rise and fall of the sudden vowel, the atrophy of consonants, the vibrato of dialogue spilling fluidly across the café. His oaken hands were clasped before him, his eyes hollow and milky. Every few minutes he would raise the paper cup to his mouth and suckle at the warm, bitter steep of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. He tasted honor, history, community, and backbreaking labor. He tasted commerce and trade. He tasted freedom. He tasted the before times, before he lost his sight, before his hearing had started to go, before he felt so…dependent.