An explosion in the sky, and the fireworks fizzled out sulfur. Life blipped just like that, just taken in slow motion.


Over the cities balcony he tapped a cigarette to his lips, she watched him with a who-gives-a-fuck amusement.

He wanted to drink himself to the point where fucking a size zero blond was a good answer to everything, or waiting till the sun came up to crash a Ritz-Carlton hotel breakfast, still in his worn suit its blues stained from a dark liquor on its sleeve, to eat the hang over away.

“Hey,” she walked out to the balcony, sliding the door shut, along with the hustle of voices.

He glanced back, past the blond hair, the long neck, to the glass door which was one step too far out of his reach, and with another glance he focused on her shadow, reflecting to the interior lights.

“Been a while.” He said.

“Yeah, sorry, I haven’t reached out, I thought you wouldn’t want to talk after what happened.”

A copout. Apologies always sounded that way.

“The door never closed.” He said in a low voice, the unlit cigarette harshing his words.

He fished for a pack of matches in his pocket, fumbling for the thought of what you can feel from a person, and that was a small feeling when they break you with little regard, and that brought up a torridness moving right around his bones.

Women made monsters of good men, and gods of animals. Men in comparison were simple, they worshipped the flesh and fetishized power.

Found it. He pulled out the box of matches.

“Anyway, I wanted to congratulate you. Published, and getting it out there. You always worried you’d be too late, or too old.”

“It’s still too late.”

“And you’re still too old to be a romantic” She made a noise, possibly a laugh, a lost canter behind it.

“And you’re still not funny.”

He pulled the cigarette off his lips, it was damp with moisture, and so he rolled it in the hand with the boxed matches. He’d written about nothing but cigarettes and women, smoke and mirrors, bourbon and old-fashioned lies.

“I loved you, you know,” the words were loud-mouthed, sounding like a mistake, and he knew he’d just lied.

“You don’t.”

“Fuck.” He’d listened to a projection of her feelings, not a plausible denial, the whole world could be between his fingertips and she’d want nothing in the ridges between his skin.

“Loved? That mean you don’t anymore,” she said.

He put the cigarette between dry lips, just to shut himself up, to not say it again. Her words were deaf on him. She spoke and dreamt in love, and he dreamt in death and loss.

Maybe that was it, that thing about her, she was the loss he saw a coming, and he knew that heartbreak was the romantic part of love.

The match strikes against the box, and he raised it to his face, every swing and flicker it reflected the moisture along his cheek.

“You know those things they—“

“— they kill you,” he finished her sentence.

It didn’t matter what his vice was, the memory of her was his worst one.


— Stories I’ll Forget Someday



On The Farm

An old couple picked corn off the stock, throwing it in a large wicker basket, and they kept walking, towards a sinking sun. They repeated it again.

He watched them from the side of the road, his car hung back with the trunk open, on a small bump that gave a short view of the fields length, a blue tint reflected off the deafening orange of the sun.

He flicked a grain stalk between his teeth, his fingers picking at the tint at the edge of the lowered drivers window.

“This is inspiration?” She asked.


“Porter, is it?”

“Yep, it really is. Where else you going to think unobstructed? Find a place that you’d never think of, a field, the country–a slaughterhouse. Just something so out of your place.”

“A slaughterhouse.”

“You get what I’m saying.”

She kicked her bare feet against the dash, her yellow skirt wrinkled around her legs, and she stared at the faint whimper of the evening sky.

“I get it, you’re different enough that I wonder how’s a guy like you still alone?”

“It’s a choice.”

“Yeah. What’s it about to you? Solitude, career, carefree?”

“Hard to say, once you’ve lost something, you always think being alone sounds like a better deal—but it doesn’t bother if you focus, you don’t have to think about what’s lost.”

“Then you just focus on what you’ve already lost.”

“Damned if you fuck you, and damned if you don’t.” He responded.

“Elegant,” she passed a glance to him, from eloquence to crass, he shifted between the two speeds.

“Anna,” he’d bored himself in this novel, and said her name enough times to forget that any other word had as much weight.

“Yeah?” She listened, and kept her eyes on the aching bones of the old home, that the couples in the twilight walked back to. The man reached his arm to wrap his fingers around hers, crops of corn aged in their fingers, and tightened their hold.

How’d it feel to be at that point? Life flittering by, options slim, and this is the place you put all your bets. Sunk all your chips on this one last gamble. It was the home you made in another person, the part of you , the you you can’t get back.

“I’d give it all up for you,” he said, without a nuance of romance, but a lucid fact.

“Give what up?” her fingers ran along the panel of the car door, digging at the leather, tempering her fingers with each pull.

“It’s all suave passé.”

She picked harder at the door, “you don’t have to, you wouldn’t, you have a lot going on.”

“Yeah, but it always comes back empty, something’s missing, and there’s a lot I never said, or got to tell.”

“And you’d tell me about where you’ve been?”

“If it meant I got you. Yeah.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“There’s other ways to say no,” he pressed his head against the leaned Chevy seat, flicking the grain stalk between his canines.

A gray flake ripped off the leather, she stopped playing with it, “I can’t be anyone’s, Porter.”

I’m barely my own, she said to herself, wishing it wasn’t true.

“Yeah. It’s hard.”

“Is it?” She said.

The old couple walked inside, only the screen door swung behind them, with an audible silence.

“Maybe that’s it, you know? You spend so much time fucking, that you take so much for granted, that when you’re done, it turns out you’re the one who’s been fucked.”

“And there it is.” She said.

“There it is, Porter,” another echo, “always too late.”

“Yeah.” He tapped the glass window, “they were a cute old couple.”

He’d followed her eyes, watching the field as she had, and he saw an elderly couple who choose each other with every new corn stalk they picked, chosen them as if they’d chosen each other in that field.

All those years of history, that brevity. He squinted his eyes with a narrow glance, wanting to see the world as she did.

If that couple hadn’t chosen each other, then they’d made a choice, to not be alone, just to always have a warm body at the end of the day. A bookmark in a book to remind you where you’d left off.

If they didn’t choose each other, and all that history was driven, the old man wouldn’t have been loyal to any woman, and the old lady would have fallen in love with just about anyone.

And somewhere that became the end of the line.

A Wee Bit You

He didn’t romanticize a manic-depressive episode, he’d done what others have and found ways to bury it, but he didn’t need jokes, or smiles, they were played out and antiquated.

It was an automatic response, every muscle memory, and thought that strung two generations into his DNA. He didn’t want the past to repeat.

It wasn’t a good show, or an overcoming of an illness, just the right chemical imbalance up top to keep him floating above the thoughts that cut into his breath.

A psychiatrist, in his youth, once told him that no one man could be an ark for those around them, but how else would you sink yourself if you were made of chipping wood.

Those were just the bullshit notions that nipped at the back of his neck, so he dismissed them,

focus focus focus on the minute moments, he said, a smile between two strangers who had no shits to give. It was a birth, meeting someone, you come out naked, and then it’s all about dressing yourself up in clothes, degrees, accomplishment, veils that hide the slinky of bones.

It was something an addict would appreciate, leaving all the veils behind like a last drag of a second hand cigarette straight from a trash receptacle, a sputter of a needle as it empties all out, to that leveling of an orgasm as your body twangs, and your cheeks buzz with an absence of thought.

Another shrink told him that his habits were just a byproduct of his mindset, ‘you can’t drink or fuck your way to happiness.’

That’s how he fell in love with the world over again, in that burn of a fifth of Willett, or the snuff between a strangers legs.

Anna 5-1

Back at her place, alone was a detriment, from the cold covered furniture trapped under white sheets that folded under her weight. Goosebumps crawled along the hairs of her arms as a vent jetted out air with a negativity that found its way through the ceiling panes.

She didn’t even want to call him, but she’d already dialed his number, the numbing comfort of having him around was more than enough to keep her stomach turning.

“Lets meet for a drink,” she speaks into the little speaker, a kitchen window leaked the ting of wind chimes.

“Where Anna?”

“I don’t’ know, somewhere on the East side of town—”, far from this part of town.

Anna put on her jacket and stepped out, her back stiffened to the cold, along with a breath callousing around her lips. She tightened her fingers around her coat as another brush of air hit the wind chimes.

Anna – 1

An alarm went off in the queue of email alerts on a Vaio, a phone mimicked it with dull vibrations before it emptied out.

She slept lightly, it kept her at the tepid edge of her dreams, so she drew her head off the threaded pillow. Her toes curled against the cold floor, and the comforter fell along the low edge of the bed. Reality bit as a cold breeze that left its mark in goose bumps along her skin.

Along the adjacent rooms canvases hung with pale sheets covering them, sharp edges shied a peek at her as she walked through the dusty flat. She picked up a phone, removed the plastic covering off the screen and let her voicemails strain across a small speaker.

‘Anna, you should consider coming into the office, working remotely ain’t always good for you…’ A female voice spoke.

She did fine, her work hadn’t taken a hit, she’d never missed a deadline. The documents are coming in later, but it’s still hours earlier than anyone else.

End. Loops to next voicemail.

She walks around the island pressing cotton boy shorts against the counter, prepping instant coffee.

‘Hey Anna,’ speakers crinkle, ‘about the other week—’

The coffee bag slips from her hand, she leans over to hit DELETE before the phone overstepped its boundaries. Certain voices had no place in her world, they came stringing audible memories, and certain fallacies with them. Words that explained themselves always seemed so empty to her.


She moved past a console table, slender fingers brushing the top of a picture frame, putting it down on its face.

‘It’s time for a girl date.” Another message recited. Dates, hanging out, meetings, all were proper words for empty interactions.

The insta-coffee brewed, the toaster pops. She never saw a point in exerting effort if it was just for her, with a lack of an audience around, every afternoon was simple prep.

One bite into the toast, drawing it with her teeth, she noticed the time on the microwave. It blinked in simple repetition.

“Shit.” She slid the phone into the seam between boy shorts and hips, she was going to blow an early dinner for the third time in a row.

In the bathroom her reflection stared back at her, a hangover was glazing over with a headache strumming with one of the strata that followed, her emotions boiled, and she pressed her canines against her lip. She’d found a way of burying the weight of anything, and all it took was a small smile.

She turned the shower tap, water drizzled in, and she shut it just the same staring back at a mirrored wall, she shuffled a hand through her hair and threw it to one side, light locks shined with a dirtied sheen.

A knock came on the door.

She squeezed into dark faded jeans, a one-leg hopscotch after another. She leaned against the door for support, peeking through the peephole.

A cardboard box obscured her view, so she carefully opened the door.

“Hey,” she could only see long legs behind the box, and they fidgeted till a head peeked around the corner.

“Package for,” The feminine voice paused reading the shipping docket, “Jack.”

“Oh, he’s not here anymore.”

She relieved herself of the box, “Yeah, he’s always ordering these kinda things.”

The delivery girl talked as if she knew him, likely friendly dialogue, which came off intrusive in the wrong circumstances.

“Yeah, he left, took all those packages with him,” at a glance she was surprisingly young to be running deliveries, with dark locks and cherry gloss on her lips. “This really your gig?”

“Why not? A woman can’t deliver packages?”

Anna gave out a laugh, “No, just young for it.”

“You must’ve missed the memo on the millennials and their crippling college debt.”

“Trust me, I got it, twice.”

“I still got a problem, I need his signature,” she tapped the delivery docket with two fingers.

“Then grab a drink, it might be a while,” Anna leaned off the door, letting it prop open all the way. She moved back into the apartment grabbing her phone.

“Last delivery of the day, but who drinks at four?” Another tap, this time on her wrist, an invisible watch. All her tapping was peculiar, habitual.

Back at the door the box was deceptively light for its size, Anna swayed it into the apartment with a few kicks, taking a moment to look at the deliverer’s nametag, “Imogen, I’ll make sure it finds its way back home.”

“Your call, Thomas,” Imogen handed the docket to her, “Sign at the bottom.”

“Thank you.”

The door began to close behind her, catching on Imogen’s foot, “There a coffee shop around here you’d recommend?”

A deliberate smile works its way onto Anna’s face, “That wasn’t the kind of drink I meant.”

“Yeah. I kinda got that, like I said, who drinks at—“

“—You already asked that question.”


“Four blocks down, on the right. It’ll be at 40-17 Broadway.”

Imogen gave another tap to the door, slipping off a navy cap, a bun of hair covered her long face, “Where was that again?”

She was surprised that someone who made deliveries around town had such a lacking sense of direction.

“I’m heading out that way, I guess I can change my drink preference.” Anna said.

The coffee shop split in two sides, an eatery and the small coffee counter, the shop wasn’t profound. A short line formed, with coffee brewing smells that filled the air. Imogen asked what’s good at the joint, and Anna just responded by pointing at the chalkboard that hung behind coffeepots.

Anna rattled her order to the barista, fiddling in her change purse, till her fingers caught a folded bill in cardstock.

It was crinkled with faded text, only bated images remained. With a puzzled turn to its backside, its signature still faint she slipped it tightly between her fingers and the barista shouted next, she made her way towards the patio door, her steps were quite, and defiantly detached of the world they’re in.

Fingers squeezed the paper in her hand, she was dangerously absent from feeling her surroundings, from the breeze that made its way against her floral dress to the brisk smell of the air.

Imogen made her way out to a fenced in area, Anna leaned against wooden planks with an embossed ‘Harlem’ in enlarged font. She took a seat across from her, captivated by the loud city streets that were just over the partition.

“Like it?” Anna asked her.

“Yeah, it’s not far from where I usually make these deliveries.”

“So, how long you been in this career?”

“Careers the wrong word, currently in law school, I just need to make money for books. Is that sad? All this work just for books? Not even the tuition itself? It feels sad.”

“Can’t say it can’t be.”

Anna let her drink stew, till the smoke settled to condensation.

“I told you, I found out twice what college debt looks like.”


“Dropped out twice.”

“Third times a charm then?” Imogen said, with a tenacity of comfort in her words.

Anna kept her response to herself, leaning farther back against the fence rustling with the sound of chains. It always surprised her when strangers could be friends under sober circumstances.

Imogen didn’t commiserate in the silence between them quite the same, she watched a couple walk in, scarfs on the warm day and arms locked.

“A couples kinda shop is the vibe I’m getting.”

The couple sat down and whispered in each others ear till the barista came delivering a mug for the fella and a cup for the gal. Anna watched them with dull introspection.

“You ever wonder if they have an interesting story of how they met, came to be?”

“Is it ever an interesting story?” Anna replied.

“Not often, interesting isn’t easy.”

“Easy? I doubt it was easy.”

“Don’t tell me you’re a romantic,” Imogen said.

Anna flicked towards the couple, “Look at that, people like that, wonder what their backstory is like, all the hard ones and moments they let go. So they white lie, about life, money, love, that this was the real deal. but no one buys that. Nobody’s somebody’s first or last by choice. It’s all about a consolation prize of a lie. ”

“You really have to be so literal?”

“Imogen, I get that you’re the type of girl who puts stories to people.”

“No. People are just fascinating, even in how seemingly dull they are.”

She enjoyed her coffee, taking a moment to wipe the foam from her lips.

“This ain’t half-bad.”