She lined up the family of dolls on an afghan covered sofa and stood back to admire her work. There was the Mama dressed up in her ‘going to church’ outfit wearing her ugly comfort shoes. Papa was scowling, holding his briefcase in front of him as if to ward off bothersome children. The little flaxen haired doll, Benny, was holding his arm back as if to throw a baseball. Beautiful little Jenny was wearing her pink smocked party dress and black patent leather shoes.
She noticed their clothes were getting a little rumpled, so she’d have to wash and iron them. Their heads were beginning to loll on their chests so she planned to reinforce them with rods to stand straight.
Oh yes, she was proud of her little tableau of dolls. But what was she going to do about that rotten smell emanating from their bodies?
"Love," my husband said, not looking away from the T.V.
"The answer to your question."
There had been a couple of questions. Like earlier, when I arrived home from work after being stuck in traffic for an hour and was greeted by angry meows.
"Why didn't you feed the cats?" I had asked.
He, sprawled out in front of the T.V., said nothing. His fingers tapped furiously over the controller in his lap. Tanks and armies surged across the screen, filling the living room with explosions and yells.
I made dinner, cleaned the kitchen, threw away empty beer cans. Tentatively asked for help. Nothing.
"What did I say?"
I raised my voice to a scream and he looked over, blinking.
"You said something about the most important skill to build great relationships."
"That was yesterday!"
"Yeah, well," he said and disemboweled a soldier with a bayonet. "It's love."
Fiction—That Chevy Impala
I will never forget it. Blue as the Kelley Blue Book, a proud white belt, dual headlights like plates on display and squinting tailights. It made salesmen use the word "aerodynamic" and "chrome" and its interior looked like the cockpit of a rich man's bush plane. We (the neighborhood chavos) would touch its windows with our faces when its owner, El Polo, wasn't looking. I told Nana someday I would own that car, that very car, and she tsked me: "No Mexican wants you driving around in an Impala." That's when I noticed that my neighbors' collected dirty cars like empty beer cans.
Something happened, or maybe he sensed bad thoughts. A FOR SALE sign appeared in the windshield. Days later, someone keyed the car. I still remember El Polo touching the scars gently. "You don't see Mexicans in those," Nana said, shaking her head, and now I knew why.
The nameless boy
He loved the carnival.
The bright colors, the Ferris wheel, the smell of butter and cinnamon, the sound of laughter.
He was only allowed to leave once a week. They didn't follow him because they knew he'd return-he had nowhere else to go.
And he always went to the carnival. He had no money to go on the Ferris wheel, to taste the butter and cinnamon, to laugh with the other kids he was never able to play with.
But he could still see the colors.
The bright reds, yellows, and oranges of the rides and tents, the baby blue of the sky, the rich, luscious grass.
Once a week he could see it.
He could take the beatings, the ever searing pain of hunger, and the non-stop work in the pitch black dark, because once a week he got to see the colors.
"Hey," he smiled at his wife, as she entered the kitchen, tired from a long day's work. "I've already started dinner, so just sit back, relax, I'll let you know when it's done."
She went to the bedroom to change, returning shortly thereafter. She watched as he finished searing the meat, adding vegetables and potato bites. He served the plates while she poured the drinks.
Sitting down, she asked, "What happened to Jim? I thought we were having him over for dinner."
His face went from smiling to glaring as he put her plate in front of her and he answered, "Oh, but we are, my dear, we are."
©2017, Trina High
The Clocksmith Paradox
There was once a very special clock
And every day it would tick and tock
Until one night
The batteries died
And the turning hands came to a stop
Well, the clocksmith did keep batteries
And he could have switched them easily
But with the clock
All time had stopped
And the man was frozen permanently
Alas, for the clocksmith to come free
The clock would need new batteries
The moral here
Is very clear:
If you wait too long you might just freeze
My dog was barking as soon as I got inside, shivering from the cold.
"Just a second, boy, I have to wash my hands," I said. Another bark.
"Just a second!" My temper was running short. I sighed of relief as the water poured over my cold hands.
"Okay, okay," I opened the door and he ran outside. I sat down at the table, coffee in hand, and trying not to remember the events of the previous night. But I'd forgotten how to forget.
I heard barking outside and squinted out into the mist: My dog was eagerly digging something up. He must have smelt it.
"No, you can't do that!" I was frustrated beyond belief. My fingers had callouses for digging that deep for that long.
I looked down at my hands. The blood had washed off, but it had made stains nevertheless. God damnit.
There was another.
I've heard of her.
She walks with a limp. Stray eyes would slip and forget at first glance.
But I see straight through her.
Shes an unknown.
She's an Angel.
Not in the strictest sense of the word.
But an angel of The Wood.
I've watched her mend a burnt gash in bark, breathe life into a drooping toadstool.
Call on the earth and grow a dozen black roses in the dead of December.
Just because she could.
I've seen her smile the way people do when they think they're alone.
Except I was watching and she could only assume paranoia at my presence.
Tick tick tick went her intuition but she tamped it with a shaky smile.
She'll tack it as waylaid anxiety.
Why does she ignore a dying tree?
All I asked was for her to turn around.
But she is too young to see.
Regan failed to hide from them, and now they've locked her inside a small room. The two assailants grabbed her and tried to tear away her cloths. Regan kicked, screamed, and bit into the violators as they each peeled away every ounce of clothing. First was her socks, then her yellow dress, finally her underpants. Regan laid on the floor stripped and exposed like a lifeless doll. One of the assailants then lifted her small body up and dropped her into a porcelain tub.
Regan emerged from the bath and pouted. Her beautiful stink that she had been working on was soaked away by the warm water and comforting bubbles. She angrily stared at her mother and stepfather. The pair laid along the bathroom floor exhausted and beaten.
"Do we..." Her mother, Carmen, irritatedly huffed. "Have to go through this... every time... it's bath night?!"