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June 5, 2011 | Fiction

Two Stories

Jason Joyce

Two Stories photo

Flight Patterns

The night the ghosts got in we went out the third floor window.
I heard boot steps on the stairs and 
we were gone.
Out past paint flecked white wicker into the forest, 
we’d been there three months; I was still learning how to spell Massachusetts.

They would come looking.

They would hire the fastest professional football players to run through the trees after us. They would hire the tallest basketball players to jump above the canopy to spot us.

Flashlight tag.

Don’t close your eyes, the dogs are trained to find those unique sleep smells; it is much easier to find than the smells of daily living. It has something to do with the subconscious and space comets I believe.

We rested atop an Indian burial ground. When you sat up your hair was a tangled mess of feathers and dirt and twigs and finger bones. We both applied your make-up like war paint.

You lost your composure. 
Tomahawk tears strewn about.

To throw the dogs off the trail we hurled your little gold finch pin into the river. This was when birds were fashionable.

It began to snow lightly. September. I was sure they had hired a magician to change the seasons. A man stretched thin in trades, not quite excelling at one thing, doing his best to diversify.

Everything we do here is in need of practice.

When we stumble out of the balding trees and underbrush we find a house for sale. I call in sick for work. You make a call to have someone move all of our things in. The next morning we go searching for your little gold finch pin. It was a gift from the grandmother you never met but loved.

Nursing Home Visitor Comfortable

Still afraid of bees, clinical pricks and pinches, and those “I swear I’ll be fines”. It’s awkward like going home with a man you met in the bar at Chili’s, it’s awkward like a middle age teen actress waitress obsessed with eHarmony hits and Patrick Dempsey lines, awkward like the after dinner smell of the woman’s apartment
who wishes she could bring her cats to work. And I bet she hears us through the floorboards. Three years pass.

“Tonight on FOX”, Frankie returns from Hollywood, an Indian far removed from 
his cupboard, the only one left after a tornado ripped through the kitchen scattering E.L. Fudge cookies, coffee and Benzedrine, porcelain fixtures and prescription pills, restless legs and erectile dysfunction, commercial script side effects and break up texts, all gentle as three way calling and junior high dances.

Wait, excuse me, When is it that I get to go home again?

I’m hurriedly snatched champagne, she’s the coffee mug. I’m a tiny jar of teeth but no tongue. She’s snow on Halloween. We’ve become windblown indoors in a place we never leave.

We’ve become relevant.

Relevant like Zima, convenient like apartment fires, buried in bed fibers I like to think we reek of possibilities, but the ratings are in and we seem to be going the way of Pogs and Beanie Babies. We are animals in sweaters, dressed for the occasion, accepting awards for perseverance, but still capable of pissing on the floor, still capable of breaking expensive crystal ware, still oh so capable of learning obedience. 

image: Valerie Molloy


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