This week’s artwork is “Fading Identities” by Fabio Sassi
A Single Man Visiting Seattle
by Gregory Ramirez
Not bad, you utter as the man onstage sings Elvis. Your sister’s friend stands up, her hand out to you. Go ahead. Take it. It’s just a dance. What starts as a waltz changes once she draws closer to you, her hands wrapped behind your neck, her head pressed to your chest. Your sister’s graduation happened earlier today, and the dinner finished a few hours ago. You fly back tomorrow to California, returning to its drought, leaving the drizzle outside. Deprived of affection, committed to avoiding a one-night stand, you think to yourself, Please keep singing, please keep singing.
by Erika Price
I would curl up with grief whenever I thought he was leaving. I would hold my hands against my chest or strike my head against the wall, my face contorted as the cries came out, knowing it was wrong and manipulative, unable to stop. I am sure that I tormented him. It was only after I left that he began to torment me. He would sit in the parking lot outside my window, curled up like a hurt child, mewling and begging for cars to strike him. His pain made me feel strong, but not at all safe.
by Jason VanFossen
I stabbed my finger with his gold embroidery needle. Instead of testing the iron in my blood, I tested the gold in his needle. Now every time my right thumb touches anything, I feel the prick where my blood fell out. Michael took everything except his embroidery kit and that pillow he made for our one-year anniversary that read “Forever.” In the sunlight of morning, the steam from my coffee dances into nothing. I feel a slight pain when, after another sip, I swipe right. Forever is a short time.
by Lisa Rehfuss
It’s 5:55pm, and he’s where he has stood every night since I started taking the subway. His job is to check subway passes. The purpose is to move people through the turnstiles quickly. I smile and say hello, as I have every night for a year. He never responds. He can’t seem to find it in himself to talk to anyone who is not beautiful. I constantly remind myself there is nothing being gained or lost with a simple ‘hello’. He can treat me like the invisible woman, but I will not, and do not, step quietly through his world.
by Mercedes Lawry
She gave that flinty smile before she drove away. The boy felt his stomach drop and a chilled hand curved around his heart and squeezed. She was gone again, mother or not.
He was staying here, without her and anything that smelled of comfort. I am less than that pile of dirt by the steps, he thought, I’m just an outline, nothing she needs to keep close. The dark was coming now, pushing into the blue-gold sky and he stood watching with the flimsy hope that he too would be swallowed up.
by Michael Kulp
The laborer blinked away sweat and pulled another handful of the Rich Man’s crop. His unfettered mind dulled the grinding sameness with vivid fantasies of a soft future. Calloused hands did the work, and he counted his dreams and regrets. Weeks metastasized into years. He saw his children, then grandchildren, grow and leave. They had no callouses on their hands, and he was worried. Would they amount to anything? At last, as he sighed away his dying breaths, his fading mind felt the gentle caresses from those many soft hands. He had made them soft. And he finished without regrets.
Well done. Great edition. I particularly enjoyed “The Subway.”
I sort of sense a theme: people leaving or passing by.
Each entry is uniquely beautiful and heart-rending. I couldn’t help but think of the classic Zen koan “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” while reading a few of these: basically, do I exist if I am unacknowledged, or our encounter is momentary?
Isolation, invisibility, and the subjective components that create our Inner Life swell or recede in moments that stand alone and mark us. Every one of these paragraphs contains deep food for thought. Thanks to the authors for sharing their stories.