By W. T. Paterson
From the outside, George had a good life and a good family. His wife Martha cooked dinner every night and his kids Annabelle and Sam did well in school. Annabelle sang in chorus and Sam played baseball as an all-star short stop. Even Martha, who had no job and stayed home all day, could not complain. She raised the children and walked the dog. She cooked and cleaned to make sure George was happy.
But George wasn’t happy. No one knew why. Often times he would find himself staying late at work not wanting to go home. He found himself feeling trapped and strangled. There were the nights where he’d work so late into the evening that by the time he returned home, the dinner would be cold and everyone would be asleep. Most times, he wouldn’t eat.
Martha worried about her poor George so she worked extra hard at making sure that when he got home, everything would be in order. But lately, this did not seem to work. Mornings would come and she would find last night’s dinner still in the kitchen without a bite on them.
Annabelle was in the paper for an outstanding performance at her school and Sam won a great big trophy after his team won a state championship. Both children had wanted their father George to attend their events, but he went to neither and had no real explanation as to why. When they showed him their achievements, he nodded his head and went into another room without a word.
Something was going on and no one could figure out what. No one, that was, except for George and his personal assistant Evelyn, for it was she that was the source. While George stayed late, Evelyn would come into his office and kiss him on the mouth. She made him do things with her that broke the sanctity of marriage and made him question his commitment to another. The worst part was, he allowed it to happen and thought he could hide it. Although George knew he was doing wrong, a part of him felt free.
Finally a day came when George returned to his house before dinner. There was separation in the air and he found Martha in the kitchen. She sounded like she was weeping with a sad and hollow grief, so George did not say a word. He watched as his wife took a sharp kitchen knife and cut off three of her fingers and, as the blood leaked into the sink, she cut off another. The sight was so ghastly that the man could hardly make a sound. Martha then took the knife and cut her face from her lips to her ear on both sides forever creating the mask of happiness.
“My dear love,” George screamed, “what have you done to yourself?”
But at that moment, Annabelle and Sam entered the kitchen through the south door and saw their mother bleeding.
“If mother cries so, then I shall share in her suffering,” Annabelle said. “I am her daughter, therefore I must become her pain,” and she took a knife and cut out her tongue. Her beautiful singing voice was now swept away.
Sam said “If they weep, then I must remain strong and become a man. For this, I shall sacrifice my childhood.” George could not believe his eyes as his son grew until there was hair on his face, and his clothes turned into a suit. No longer was Sam a little boy, instead a full grown man. All of the things he had yet to experience as a youth were now impossibilities.
George cried out, “My family! What have you done to yourselves?”
To which they replied, “Nothing that you haven’t already done to us.”
It was at this moment that George saw how much he had actually hurt them all. Most people never have a family who can manifest their inner and outer feelings as well as they could and knowing that he was responsible for the mess he banished himself from his own kingdom.
A year went by and George found he could not focus at work. He was soon fired and forced to move into a small and rundown apartment. With no job, there was little money and he quickly ran out of food. He could not afford to pay the electricity. His dreams became recurring visions of failure and his stomach cried out for the substance of a meal.
Many tears fell from the face of the once successful man. They fell into the bowls before him and became a soup. He drank this soup to ease his hunger. When the soup became scarce, he took a knife and began cutting out pieces of his own heart to eat. This caused much pain, but it was the only way he could stay alive. When he ate his heart, he wept. When he wept, he drank his tearful soup. It was a never ending cycle and he did this until he died.
Martha and her family lived on for many years later and tried to forget about the past, but so much had already been lost. The past is hard forgotten. They learned to carry with them the burdens of choice.
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W. T. Paterson is a Chicago writer who's recent work can be seen in Maudlin House, Procyon Press's Anthology, and Whispers from the Past. Send him a tweet @WTPaterson
Posted by E.S. Wynn
The Minutes Before The Grope
By Sarah Edwards
The boy standing on my foot, without airless gloves, “You are the cut-out grapefruit that lives in the elastic tower just around my bush?” I wanted to answer but my wisdom tooth was all out of metal exterior, the honesty your hand was poking for under the rear threads of my jeans short-shorts, was on indefinite leave to the pipe zipper on your khaki underpants. They had wrinkled saliva running through the ridges, every time you tried to zip up or down, a burdened bush tear fell between your protruding knees. I tried to catch it every hundredth fall, with my hallowed double lips, open and gaping, the raspberry flavored gelatin button you adore to clasp with wires. I let the currents run through my bagged mouth, then it was all pleasant that my loaded lips failed to feed on the glutinous drop, you sealed it every time with a dusting of a nod. It was just and all that my one gaze needed. In real time the pressurized foot was taking the form of a flat skin bread, you refused to wear the weighty fingers to cover your bald hands and kept staring in my entangled one eye, making agile water needed to salt the pores. The dawned question kept hitting the circular dot on my nose, in a 10 second constant pace. “O..Orr..Ore!” The yelp leaving my open flesh was unrecognizable. You twisted the heel of your arched brick, pale with bare cracked nerves. It was a mistake, a toe sprained wrong I had done and you were a stone figure, bathing in ashes. “Ore is just a material, the bush is what matters to any berry with grown hair.” I saw it without any eye prick. The immobilization of air that you gifted me was a direct response to the praise of over flowing hedges. I pleased you. This time the toe was non-feeling. You took the erased question, now visible and multicolored and nailed it, with the addition of your fingernails , to the sides of both of our cheek bones. And then the fingering was aligned with the question. We will forever sprout as shrubs of juiced pebbles.
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Sarah Edwards is a writer and/or a poet. She likes to push boundaries of literature and language. Her work is experimental and somewhat avant garde. She breathes in Annapolis, MD for now.
Posted by E.S. Wynn
The Lime Rat Probe
By AE Reiff
First. Thousands of prod cells are undetected at the macro mart.
To call them cells is inaccurate in the plural.
Just one prod makes a cell.
Second. In the world of six,
prod cells contingency plan with the mind of prods
but are not a mind.
When those cell(s) form the number odd, three young,
they immerse themselves in the language, geography, skills, and goals
of prods and plan as prods plan, or not,
for prods may not plan as they ought,
or as their leaders would.
Three. Expect the ensuing prod act to take
documents and official tactics to infiltrate non-scenes.
Here the definition of non-scene is difficult.
Four. Because three means six
it is impossible to identify cell numbers.
I fell asleep at midday once and woke to see
Prods in a van at an army school. This was beyond belief.
Hope that the prods fell asleep again.
Five. You would think you could call out to the In
in them, that is, to the prods diffuse, divert:
“Come now you prods,” you would assert, but….
Six. We are being innerwhelmed.
Note: They got their name from their port of entry, Point Produgal.
Or Prodicul, or Protigull. Analysis shows either and all explains it.
The Lime Rat Probe had nought to do with pigs. You get tired of explaining everything.
A captured prod would shed some light. Who can't make that claim? The Swine.
Di prado ate the pig. Did prodos eat the pig? Huh? Hardly!
Among different kinds exist a droop, a jack, and a prod. Prod’s ruse all right.
This message was found on their doors: Prods dance.
Now you're saying, that’s clear, but what’s the proof a prod’s mine? A Lapsed Pers or a Return Thig? There have always been three issues here:
First. Thousands of prod cells have been undetected at the macro mart. To call them cells is inaccurate in the plural. Just one prod makes a cell.
Second. In the world game, if you form the six prod cells that contingency plan with the mind of prods, do not say, what mind? The mother loves the mind of prawn.
Incidentally, when those cell(s) form the number six, three odd brothers, three young, they immerse themselves in the language, geography, skills, and goals of prods. They plan as prods plan, or not, for prods may not plan as they ought, or as their leaders would.
Three. Expect the ensuing prod act to take documents and official tactics to infiltrate non-scenes. Here the definition of non-scene is most difficult.
Four. Because three means six in their league, it is impossible to identify cell numbers. I fell asleep at midday once and woke up to see Prods in a van at an army school. This was beyond belief. Hope that the prods fell asleep again.
Five. You would think you could call out to the In in them, that is, the prods diffuse, divert: “Come now you prods,” you would assert, but.
Six. They got this name from their port of entry, Point Produgal. Or Prodicul, or Protigull. We are being innerwhelmed. Analysis shows either and all of these explains it.
That is the story of the Lime Island prod so far as last heard.
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AE Reiff runs a balaklava bakery in Marfa turning fiction into pastry.
Posted by E.S. Wynn
Etymology of Zoe Farm
By Matthew Beach
They talk of radical renewal, but radical, you say, is from the Latin radix, which, like radish, has to do with getting to the root of things, so I dig my fingers deeper into the soil. Knuckles the color of beets, as cracked as carrots.
They say I need to be righteous, but I’m no measuring stick. You tell me the root of righteousness is the Old English riht, meaning upright or straight, as in, to fit a particular form, so I prune my auxiliaries and measure not the right of my angles, but the color and light of my fruit.
They say sex is the prime mover, but sex, as you remind me, is from the Latin secare, meaning to move apart, as in, from whole to halves, so I lie next to you, elbows in the dirt, like a pea pod split down the seam, closer to the roots than to myself.
They say I’m only as good as the company I keep, so we wait in the dark for the flea beetles to descend and bite our knees like cabbage and for the morning wind to scatter our hands like seeds over the earth.
When we’ve finished, the dirt under our fingernails will tell us we’ve been here before. The zucchini prickles in our palms will say we’ve only begun.
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Matthew Beach is a high-school English teacher, writer, and visual artist from Canton, Ohio. His poems and stories appear in The Prose-Poem Project, Metazen, Weave, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere.
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