March 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Mama, we have anything to eat?” “Sure, Punkin, here.” Mama’s arm shot back, the sound of her fingers crackling cellophane as she passed the Krispy Kremes from the front seat to the back. Before my stomach growled, I had been trying to guess license plates, pretending to have a contest with Daddy like we did before he left us. Mama said she talked to him until she was blue in the face trying to make him stay but he didn’t pay her no mind. Not after that manicurist got his attention. But if you ask me, I don’t think Mama’s heart was in it. Otherwise, she could of talked him into staying, even if it was only for a little while.
“Now don’t you be sulking back there young lady.” My mama always said she had eyes in the back of her head and I believed her. “Your sister okay?”
Mary Virginia was up in the rear view window, looking at the stars, tapping her fingernails on the glass, her eyes not an inch away. She moved this way and that, making little huff and puff sounds trying to keep from falling into the back seat. She had grown a foot, Mama said, since our car trip last summer. Still looked little to me. At least little enough to squeeze herself up there in the back window. Before I got too big for it we had to draw straws for who got to sleep there. But not when Daddy was with us.
Before he left us we all – including Mama who was mostly always happy then – jumped out of the car to watch Daddy in the moonlight. He would dig down deep into his pockets, jingle his change and finally bring out the coin that felt just right I guess. He would turn this way and that, making sure we all saw the coin he chose, and then he would toss the coin high in the sky while we held our breaths. The coin caught the flash of moonbeams as it flipped over and over before daddy scooped it out of the sky like it was no more than a firefly. Then with a slap he moved it from his right palm to the back of his left hand. With his big grin he would lean down, his warm face next to ours, and say “What’ll it be for you girls tonight? Heads or tails?” Only then could we take another breath.
After receiving her PhD in 1997, Katherine Horrigan taught as an adjunct English Professor for the University of Houston. Both print and online journals including The Birmingham Arts Journal, The Rusty Nail, and The Prose Poem Project have published her poetry, plays, and short stories. Her poetry has also been published in the 2013 Texas Poetry Calendar and she recently completed Drought, a novel set in South Texas. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Ginkgo Biloba, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’ve been slipped parking tickets under my bones like I wasn’t supposed to be where I was. I don’t drive around town too often. My parents think I’ll crash, think I haven’t had enough experience, think my hands don’t have enough bent corners, rough creases, wrinkles like the Vermont State maps stuffed into your glove compartment. Before we drove over the bridge, you asked me to read them for you, but I am useless when it comes to reading interstates or highways or badges with numbers; I am just stupid when it comes to my finger following the lines. If we stayed in this town, if we didn’t take a road trip, I could drive us places. I don’t need a map here— I know the short cuts, and the long way just in case you have a tank full of gas and it’s a Friday afternoon and Monday is a national holiday. Or, if you’re in a hurry, I know the one way streets you can get away driving a palindrome. I know the crooked spots over the hills, the spots where cops don’t bother looking, the spots where you can see stars putting their cigarettes out on the arms of clouds. And I know where we can park for a whole night, like a secret in the clutter of this city, underneath its own seat. We can be a couple of crumpled receipts, or a dirty penny and a movie stub, or a gum wrapper and a CD that will skip like our last conversation, wedged in my head: “The french-french-french toast was good. It was nice to see-see-see—” You, have always been a ‘been there’ disguised as a Lego magazine I receive monthly at my parent’s house; I haven’t read one since I was 12 years old, but the Lego company doesn’t fuck around with their subscriptions. And neither do you.
Benjamin Bouvet-Boisclair is currently a SUNY Cortland undergrad student working towards a Professional Writing degree. When not writing he is playing board games with enemies, shooting hoops, or doing magic tricks for invisible crowds. This is his second submission to Slice of Life.
Image: Lighting, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
December 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Viewing Room
The room itself wasn’t much. Pushed against the right-hand, goldenrod wall: a ’70s RCA console TV and a push-button VCR without a remote. Boxes of storage and two broken wooden desks piled in front of a two-by-three window, facing out onto the commuter parking lot and the L curve of the building, the science stacks. As resident Humanities majors, you never visited either.
Still, this room was your hideaway on campus—your roommate from Little Rhody, who worked the front desk on Tuesdays and Thursdays, told you about it, but Bryan became the sole reason for going.
You first watched West Side Story and several Rockys and Platoon and Forrest Gump when it was a new release. You cried through Terms of Endearment and A Room with a View with Bryan on the ratty dorm-refuse sofa beside you, then nearer to on top of you. On Tuesdays without a night class or a Saturday with nothing else to think-up but get drunk, count quarters for laundry, or read the assigned Camus, you’d rendezvous at the Beinke Viewing Room.
Here, your freshman year, you traced the roof of Bryan G.’s mouth with your tongue and he tasted like garlic and sweet cloves and his fingers ran the dank length of you until you shivered, emboldened because you couldn’t see yourselves in that room without mirrors. Sometimes, his class ring bruised your right breast but it was worth it, to be curled-close with the lights off, crushed into him while your faces glowed blue-orange-red with reflections of whatever tape from the library’s stash you were only half watching.
You’ve wondered these fifteen years after Bryan’s transfer to State: did he become a history teacher or did his dad guilt him into the family business? Has he maybe Googled you? There were three possible guys with his family name on Facebook, but all are bald and slumpy, with trying-too-hard smiles and kids, so you resisted sending a friend request. Not one of them is the Bryan you knew, your assigned presentation partner for the European Empire seminar who swiftly became more, the one you shared the dumpy couch and countless explorations, cinematic and otherwise. You’ve gained twenty pounds and never married, so surely you’re not who you thought you’d be by now, either. Life itself never a movie, but many scenes that seldom add up to an arc.
Despite the Dylan Walsh sideburns and the overcoat he brought back from Christmas break and called dope, you had something. In his hands– the first to snake your thigh. In the dialogue– that could never be called canned when it happened to you: “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”*
Sure, maybe you weren’t Taylor and Burton, nor Bogey and Bacall, but in that room you had something.
* From “When Harry met Sally”
MK Miller has two degrees and limitless curiosity. She has written about a wide array of topics, including the cultural significance of go-go boots and authentic communications tips. Her writing has appeared most recently in Revolution House, Verdad Magazine, Tawdry Bawdry, and Tiny Buddha.
Image: Twin Breath, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
June 15, 2012 § 3 Comments
My pen was quivering before I started to write. It may have been the Four Loko from last night that seems to carry a hangover of trembling hands; or, maybe it was my own plain shakiness when writing in public, at a desk, in class; or, it may have been my system being nervous about writing about a place I’ve never been to– her place. She called it her ‘loft.’ I bet it looked like her wardrobe– that worn forest green color she wore too often; it probably looked like music, like John Brown’s Body. It probably looked disorderly with a tint of clean. She probably draped some curtains over the window–curtains her mother probably made. I imagine, they might have been an ugly maroon no one but I would have liked. Her nightstand was probably stacked with borrowed books. She might have had an ashtray, but probably for things other than ash. Things like fortune cookie papers, pretty marbles, or change. It probably smells like her back does in the mornings. Blankets seem to peel our skin for their own. Every night I sleep alone I am reminded of how she and I smelled together: like a live acoustic band, something raw and ready and clawing for nothing but stillness about it. I still haven’t washed my bed sheets; I think it’s because I like to hold onto things that are already gone. I still have that bottle of shitty wine, two glasses stained from cold hot chocolate, and her tea mug. I haven’t washed it– sometimes, I drink water from it. It still clings to an after taste of vanilla chai.Then again, I don’t listen to Bon Iver or Mumford and Sons anymore, because I can’t. I bet that’s what she plays on her CD player. It probably sits on a bookshelf, near her bed. And yes, I’m guessing she has a CD player. But, this is all guesswork anyways; I don’t have any real answers.
Benjamin Bouvet-Boisclair is currently a SUNY Cortland undergrad student working towards a Professional Writing degree. When not writing he is playing board games with enemies, shooting hoops, or doing magic tricks for invisible crowds. He lives in Cortland, New York, inside of a small room with a big couch.
Image: Unfolded Wing, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
It was hard to maintain the solemnity of the dead man’s wake when his mouth wouldn’t stay shut in full view of the mourners. When he died at the age of 85, the distance was too far and the expense too great to hold his wake at the nearest funeral home. So, it was his daughter-in-law, who lived on the farm with him and her husband, who took charge of preparing his body.
But death was viewed with the same seriousness as the temperance pledge in their family bible which remained unsigned. Temperance was a virtue, true, but so was hospitality and it was important to ensure there was enough dandelion wine to go around. Death was not a thing to take lightly but would always mean that while yet another person we love is gone, we are still here.
But that mix of sadness and relief, which often threads its way through funerals, was not enough to stop some mourners from becoming visibly upset at the sight of a dead man suddenly feigning surprise. His daughter-in-law therefore added to her list of chores the task of smearing sealing wax over his lips to keep them from popping open. As the wax was not strong enough to hold for very long. she would repeat this chore until the mourners had left.
John Hansen lives with his wife and child in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada where he works spends his days looking at spreadsheets and evenings writing and obsessing over Coronation Street.
Image: Blue Morpho, By Leigh-Anne Fraser