Archive for the 'fiction' Category



fragment from “the invisible museum”

On the sidewalk by the park, a man stood watching the children play. He required a child of a particular age. Old enough to follow instructions. Too young to be trusted as a witness. And alone. The boy was digging a small pit near the edge of the stone wall. Next to him were piled the sort of sundry treasures a boy keeps, shiny and sharp. It seemed as though the hole in the dirt was his only dominion. The man dropped a heavy coin onto the pile, and then an envelope sealed with wax. He pointed over the wall, across the street. He watched the boy cross over, slip in the door behind an old lady, then emerge again a minute later. When the boy returned the man dropped another coin in the dirt. The boy’s greed over the bright currency consumed him. He had not once looked at the man’s face.

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fragment from an unfinished short story

They named him Hector, but he didn’t live up to it. So they chopped the name down to a curt and humble syllable: Heck. He was a late and desperately desired child, hard to conceive and harder to raise. His father had been a weak man who succumbed to his foibles while Heck’s mother was still fanning herself on the porch, awaiting deliverance. Alone with her daughters, she settled on this state of affairs as the cause of Heck’s inconsolable wailing, which could go on for hours and often did. His mother rocked him in her arms and sang her sweetest songs. A dull rage would start to tighten between her bony shoulders, and then her prim little daughters took their turns. His screams revved like an engine. Some days there was nothing to do but leave him in the crib and rest their worn nerves outside in the thick wet air, where the hum of the cicadas dulled the pitch of his cries. By the time he could talk, the threat of his tantrums hung over them like a thunderstorm that would not leave. It was the sound, most of all, that kept the tired women under his thumb. His demands crowded them into the corners of the house. By then it took only a dark glance to achieve his aims. They would do almost anything to avoid the exhaustion of appeasing him. When he was sixteen, and they were all wrung dry, his mother sent him to live with her war-hardened brother across town. As if, much too late, that might cure him. The day he left, he turned back from the sidewalk and saw his older sisters glowering at him from the safety of the porch swing like the meek inheriting the earth.

postcards from the shore of a foreign lake

Dear Charles,
Longing is desire, constituted by distance. Across an ocean, across a border, across a room. I long for you now, and I long for you as you walk toward me. As we finally touch, what does longing become?
-R

Dear Charles,
You aren’t here and I am lonely. I weep, and the rented villa weeps with rain. I’m afraid that when I see you again, I will still be lonely. One is poetics, the other is pain.
-R

fragment from “the invisible museum”

Daniel woke to the sight of his fingers stained with pigments that he had ground by hand the day before, crushed from the same rocks and minerals mixed with the plant dyes that Caravaggio had used long ago. Making paint was kitchen chemistry. He kept a separate mortar and pestle for each color in a metal-topped drawer meant for bread. His porcelain sink was tainted with the brilliant dust. It had marred his sheets and left bright bruises on his own pale skin. He whispered the names like an incantation: verdigris, yellow ocher, vermillion, madder lake.

trespasses

I read in your journal about all the men who weren’t me.

I knew something was wrong when you pretended not to remember her.

When I showed you the hotel receipt, you told me it always says two people.

I watched you through the window while I told him I wanted his cock.

I said I never fucked her in our bed, but I did.

I thought about him when I was fucking you.

I fucked her an hour before I met you for lunch.

I told him your secrets.

I talked to her at night after you were asleep.

I fell in love with him right under your nose.

Everybody but you knew about it.

I only figured it out after you were dead.

fragment from an unfinished, as-yet untitled short story

What happened to him happened at the bus station, of all places. It was a clear bright Saturday and he was going to bet on some horses at the track upstate. He was late getting started and arrived at the station with just a few minutes to spare before the bus was due to leave. The line for tickets was long and slow, and he could see the girl at the counter was inefficient, smiling slowly at people as she counted their change twice to make sure. He shifted his weight and snorted loudly a few times. The man ahead of him turned and gave him a skeptical look. He stepped out of line toward the ticket window and shouted, “Look, I’ve got a bus to catch, can’t you speed it up, or get some help or something?”

The girl was quite pretty, he saw now that he was closer. Blond hair fell in curls around her bright eyes. He was undeterred. “You could do all this faster, people are in a hurry. I’m going to miss my bus on account of how slow you are.”

“Just a moment,” she said to the old woman whose hands quivered over her changepurse. The girl’s smile faded as she turned to look Heck in the eye. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I’ve got a schedule and nobody else is in a hurry, or they’d be angry too, and you’re just moseying along there, making small talk and you ought to be more professional about the whole thing.” His voice grew a little louder with every word he spoke. People began to stare. A driver smoking outside the station door leaned in to see what the commotion was.

The girl shook her head, her brows tilted in disbelief. She leaned over the counter, putting her face as close to him as her body could reach. “Come here,” she said and waited for him to step toward her. He plucked a ten-dollar bill from his pocket to pay for the ticket he expected her to shove at him. But when he stopped a foot shy of the counter, she only shook her head again and asked, “Doesn’t anybody love you?”

fragment from “the wandering point”

Cal watched Rachel’s graceful back as she stood in the exact center of the massive grid of factory windows along the wall of her studio. Her hands were propped on either side of her where the sill intersected the frame, a pair of oblique angles. He saw a moment of symmetry, of exquisite geometry, the body and the built world in harmony. And then, she leaned slightly into her hip and the symmetry broke.


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