The next morning my Dad is back at his camp to start his great hunt again. The heat keeps him awake. He rarely sleeps. Cicadas buzz like little machines in the trees. He has no bullets, but he wields his knife. He eats cicadas when he gets hungry, or kills a lizard. Sometimes I ride my kangaroo to bring him pork chops and apple sauce. The part of the woods that Ronald Reagan burned down are all grown back.Continue reading
My grandfather is at the top of the mountain looking for my grandmother. She’s been missing for years and each summer she’s been gone her earthquakes destroy more of the town. Soon, everyone has left. My grandfather stays and promises to find his wife and learn why she’s done this for so long.Continue reading
Me and my mom and my sisters move back to the house. My father stays in the woods. He keeps hunting Jesus. He walks with a knife and studies the blood from when he shot Jesus once and gave him five wounds. He follows the trail of big red drops through the woods and into the corn field where the Berlin Wall has reappeared. He cannot cross. He has not seen Jesus for years. The weather gets hot. The heat makes my Mom fight with my sisters who skip school to fish all day and night in the canal. They dive in with sharp sticks and spear fish. One night my Mom sneaks over and locks them in their room. When she finally unlocks their door she says, “No more fish!” and breaks their wooden spears. My sisters walk past me and yell, “Don’t you follow us!”Continue reading
My father is in the woods far from our house. He is hunting Jesus. Jesus stalks the woods in his antlers. He is chasing Ronald Reagan. That’s when my Dad shoots Jesus. Jesus runs off, bleeding in five places from one bullet. Nice shot! My Dad waits. He lets Jesus go away to see if he’ll bleed out. When my Dad gets down from his tree he follows the blood. He follows it into the corn field and stops. He cannot go any further. There is a Berlin Wall. The blood trail goes over the Wall. My Dad will not. He can smell the blood and the scent of burnt matches on the other side.Continue reading
Very happy to say that my short story, “Sharpening the Sickle to Shame the Scythe,” appears in Issue #16 of Fiddleblack.
It’s about the way people cope with guilt during the grieving process. So it’s a bit different from the kind of short stories I’ve published thus far.
Many thanks to editor Jason Cook for publishing this piece. He wrote this introduction to the new issue, which features wonderful poems by Brian Kubarycz and Elias Marsten, and stories by Anna Boorstin, Maxwell Howard, and Caitlin Woolley.
Here’s an excerpt from my piece. Thanks for reading. And of course I’d welcome a chance to hear your comments about the story.
In the hours before Lauren Hunter-Aikens got the news she was stuck trying to revise a story she had written in her creative therapy group.
In the story, the narrator imagined that the news of her son’s death would come by phone. She would be at work drinking coffee, clicking with intense focus through documents on her computer screen. Her phone would buzz in her purse. Not wanting to disturb the office silence, she would answer right away and keep her voice low out of respect for her colleagues on the other sides of her cube.
The voice would ask if she were sitting down. She’d say yes, why? The person who’d called would say the preliminary things she had feared for so long. Then the voice would tell her that there had been an accident. Most often she imagined the voice telling her there had been a car crash, but also very frequently it was an accident at home, where a nanny watched the boy until she and her husband got back from work around five-thirty. The boy had died in a fall down the stairs or been poisoned with household chemicals. A few times she imagined the boy had choked on something she and her husband had neglected to clean up, such as a penny or a tire from a broken toy car. In any case, in that scenario an everyday object in their home had somehow killed the boy. In the story, the woman would wail when she got the news, slamming her phone against the desk, causing the people in the cubes next to hers to jump up and look over the wall, asking what’s wrong, what on earth has happened?