ADELAIDE FOUNDERS / FUNDADORES
Stevan V. Nikolic & Adelaide Franco Nikolic
Independent Monthly Literary Magazine
Revista Literária Independente Mensal EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR-CHEFE
Year IV, Number 33, January 2019 Stevan V. Nikolic
Ano IV, Número 33, Janeiro 2019
MANAGING DIRECTOR / DIRECTORA EXECUTIVA
Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent inter- Adelaide Franco Nikolic
national monthly publication, based in New York and
Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco GRAPHIC & WEB DESIGN
Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to publish quality Adelaide Books LLC, New York
poetry, fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and photography, as
well as interviews, articles, and book reviews, written in CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS IN THIS ISSUE
English and Portuguese. We seek to publish outstanding
literary fiction, nonfic-tion, and poetry, and to promote Lisa Lebduska, John Riebow,
the writers we publish, helping both new, emerging, and Chrissie Molitor, Vivek Nath Mishra,
established authors reach a wider literary audience.
Colin Gallagher, Taylor Martin,
A Revista Literária Adelaide é uma publicação men- Alexandre Henrique Ferreira Campos de
sal internacional e independente, localizada em Nova Souza, Nathaniel Zebley, Charlie Turner,
Iorque e Lisboa. Fundada por Stevan V. Nikolic e Ade- Noelle Florio, Uko Tyrawn Okon, Ryan James
laide Franco Nikolic em 2015, o objectivo da revista é
publicar poesia, ficção, não-ficção, arte e fotografia de Lamb, Daniel Davis, Bonita LeFlore,
qualidade assim como entrevistas, artigos e críticas Taylor G Mauck, Susie Gharib,
literárias, escritas em inglês e por-tuguês. Pretendemos
publicar ficção, não-ficção e poesia excepcionais assim Anna Schaeffer, Marcia Eppich-Harris,
como promover os escritores que publicamos, ajudan- Alan Berger, Ruth Deming,
do os autores novos e emergentes a atingir uma audiên-
cia literária mais vasta. Ibrahim N. Al-Huraiyes, Essam M. Al-Jassim,
Beth Burgmeyer, Iggy J. Louis, Nate Tulay,
(http://adelaidemagazine.org) Matthew Conte, Kurt G. Schmidt,
Mellody Hayes, Jennifer Nelson,
Published by: Adelaide Books, New York Sara Wetmore, Timothy Robbins,
244 Fifth Avenue, Suite D27 Mettamodernist, Susan Ayres,
New York NY, 10001 George Eklund, Rikki Santer, Susan Sonde,
e-mail: [email protected] Debasis Tripathy, Ken W. Simpson,
phone: (917) 477 8984 Benjamin Biesek, Katherine Carlman,
http://adelaidebooks.org Daniel Senser, Ian Ganassi
Copyright © 2019 by Adelaide Literary Magazine
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the Adelaide Literary Maga-zine
Editor-in-chief, except in the case of brief quo-tations
embodied in critical articles and reviews.
CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS FOR YOU, BLUE
by Anna Schaeffer 82
FICTION ALTER IAGO
by Marcia Eppich-Harris 90
JIMINEY DID I STUTTER?
by Lisa Lebduska 7 By Alan Berger 95
THE OLD FRONT PORCH
AN INSTANT OF EVERYTHING by Ruth Deming 97
by John Riebow 15 DELUSION
by Ibrahim N. Al-Huraiyes,
WE ARE WAITING translated from the Arabic
by Chrissie Molitor 21 by Essam M. Al-Jassim 101
SMELL OF LEATHER NONFICTION
by Vivek Nath Mishra 25 WHITEBOARDS AND COURAGE
by Beth Burgmeyer 107
TELL A FRIEND POSTMODERN MUD
by Colin Gallagher 31 by Iggy J. Louis 109
THE PEOPLE I USED TO KNOW
PEQUENA by Nate Tulay 113
by Taylor Martin 35 WE THE LOSERS
by Matthew Conte 118
CURSED CHRISTMAS DINNER BAD FORTUNE AROUND MEETING THE
by Alexandre Henrique Ferreira PRESIDENT
Campos de Souza 37 by Kurt G. Schmidt 122
REFUGE WITH LAST
NO VACANCY BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
by Nathaniel Zebley 40 by Mellody Hayes 127
A MURKY FUTURE
A GROCER’S LIST by Jennifer Nelson 134
by Charlie Turner 42 I DO NOT RECALL THE NAME
by Sara Wetmore 140
by Noelle Florio 44 3
by Uko Tyrawn Okon 52
ROBERT AND GOYLE
GO TO THE MOVIES
by Ryan James Lamb 60
BEER BEFORE LIQUOR
by Daniel Davis 66
TALK TO ME
by Bonita LeFlore 70
THE ALLEYWAY FIGHT
by Taylor G Mauck 73
THE SULLEN ROAD
by Susie Gharib 79
Adelaide Literary Magazine
by Timothy Robbins 147
TEARS OF SPADES
IN AMERICAN BLUES
by Mettamodernist 151
THE CLASSICAL DEBT
by Susan Ayres 156
PERHAPS YOU UNDERSTAND
by George Eklund 158
by Rikki Santer 162
IT’S NO PICNIC WHEN
THE WORDS ONE
SPEAKS ARE IMPELLED
by Susan Sonde 164
THE ARABIAN SEA
by Debasis Tripathy 171
FILE NUMBER 20
by Ken W. Simpson 174
by Benjamin Biesek 175
by Katherine Carlman 177
WHAT WILL BE
by Daniel Senser 180
by Ian Ganassi 183
by Lisa Lebduska
On a blistering July morning in 1979, Connie ask and which were not. What she wanted
and Maria entered the smooth, moneyed to ask but could not, was why, out of all the
chill of The Plaza Hotel, trailing after Con- women riding the subway, had the man
nie’s father Tom, who crossed its gleaming picked on her? Was it because she was so
marble with the long, confident strides of a petite and delicate looking, he thought she
Marine. “You’re only an imposter if you act would never fight back? Or was it because
like one,” he had told Connie, and she tried she was so pretty, he could not resist the
to practice what he preached. But once they temptation to possess her? If her face had
arrived, his advice vanished like cigarette been a plain oval and not a petulant heart;
ash wiped away by the maids. Though Con- if her nose had had a bump instead of a
nie had visited The Plaza with him before, slope, if her smile had not been so white
she still faltered under the crystal scrutiny and even, would the man have approached
of the chandeliers. While Maria winked at her? Connie could not ask; she understood
the crewcut bellboys pushing golden carts that she had to take a single message from
loaded with paisley luggage, Connie fought the story, as if it had been a bullet: men
to ignore the loose buckles on her gum- are dangerous. But she also knew that her
soled sandals, chirping like crickets with ev- mother’s dark beauty gave her the courage
ery sticky step she took. Against the noise, to demand that the world treat her as she
she could hear her mother’s dark fable. wished. Connie had watched her getting
ready for work, stretching her lashes long
When I was sixteen, a man groped me on with coal mascara, pressing a deep ruby
the subway. And that was when the trains onto her full lips that matched a perfect
had wicker seats and it didn’t stink of pee. manicure and looking back at herself with
quiet satisfaction. “You take after your fa-
What did you do? ther’s side of the family,” she told Connie,
who, ever aware of her farmer features--a
I drove my pearl hatpin into his leg as far squarish face and wide nose--had no reason
as it would go. to doubt her. And so at fourteen, she had
buttoned herself into her plainness, a pro-
What did he do? tective cardigan she wore year-round, punc-
tuated only by the moments with Maria
Didn’t make a peep. I wiped the blood when she was persuaded to unravel it into
on his trousers. an unruly heap and set it alight.
Each time her mother had told the story,
Connie knew which questions were safe to
Adelaide Literary Magazine
A trip to The Plaza with her best friend chocolates that he brought home every
promised an entire box of matches and a Friday along with morsels about the hotel’s
flask of kerosene. jeweled clientele. He told his family he’d hit
the jackpot when the Plaza agreed to rent
Unlike Connie, Maria wore her looks him office space on its deteriorating four-
as a striped blue bolero. Connie had dis- teenth floor: “Too dilapidated for movie
covered Maria in Accelerated Geometry, a stars, but perfect for me.” His wife bought
class filled with pale doughy boys who gig- him expensive jackets on markdown at
gled every time Mr. Kagan said “intersec- Lohman’s and kept his hair trimmed close,
tion of sets.” They bonded solving proofs taking care to cover the bald patch that had
and blowing light pink bubbles that they emerged on the back of his head like a pink
popped with muffling, sticky fingers, under baby.
their desks, as Mr. Kagan covered the board
in chalky glyphs. Maria cracked wise against Since coming to The Plaza, Tom had
a world of lust that both terrified and beck- transformed from an engineer who wor-
oned Connie, and Connie laughed when no ried about the stability of concrete into a
one else dared. The sister of four brothers, celebrity authority who knew who wore
Maria served as self-appointed Sex Expert, wigs and who cheated on their spouses.
answering Connie’s questions about pe- He talked about movie stars as if they all
nises, because Connie had never seen one rode the bus together. Connie could feel the
in person. Maria knew things but as im- fame rubbing off on her, a small, glittering
portant she also knew how to say “please” gem she hoped would someday captivate
and “thank you” and look adults straight in the man who looked at her the right way.
the eye, and so Connie’s mother never ob- She wanted Maria to catch some of it, too.
jected to their spending time together.
“Mr. Basso, who’s the best person you’ve
By tacit agreement the girls rejected the ever seen?” Maria asked.
chronic competition of appraisal that hob-
bled the friendships of other girls, and they “You tell me.” Tom hummed a few bars of
guarded each other’s secrets, including the “I Think I Love You.”
panty girdle that Connie’s mother insisted
she wear, the closest she came to talking “You saw David Cassidy. What was he like?”
with her big-busted, blonde daughter about
dating: Jiggling gives boys the wrong idea. “Skinny. He’s no Gregory Peck.” Tom winked
Besides, it’s not a corset; you get used to it, at Connie.
in time. Connie had not protested.
“We’re going to hang around here be-
“Take them off,” Maria said. “Unless fore we come up to the office, O.K?” Connie
you’re getting ready for a shoot-out at the asked.
O.K. Corral. Bare feet are sexy.”
Tom ran his fingers through distin-
“Not in the lobby of the most famous guished greying temples but sounded like
hotel in the world,” Connie said, in between an East Side kid as he said, “Buy yourselves
sandal jangles. some treats and don’t get me kicked out,”
and pressed ten dollars into Connie’s hand
Tom led the girls towards the elevators, before he stepped on to the elevator. He
past the shop that sold the Cointreau-filled had given them half of his weekly allowance,
doled out by her mother. Your father spends
Revista Literária Adelaide
two dollars for every one he earns. If I didn’t “Why don’t we ride the elevator until a
watch every penny we’d be bankrupt. famous person comes on? You can snap my
picture with them, quick, before their body-
Connie and Maria headed back to the guard kills you.”
lobby. Maria asked, “Was your Dad serious
about getting kicked out?” Connie smiled. Maria always knew when
to help her run away. Still she had to say, “It
“The Plaza rented him office space when might be against the rules.”
they were running out of money. Then rich
owners bought it. Now they want to termi- “What rules? This isn’t school.” Maria
nate commercial leases and renovate.” headed for the elevator, and Connie fol-
lowed, despite the dread that prompted her
“They can’t throw him out,” Maria said. to blurt out, “If they catch us, they’ll evict
“No, but management can get really
picky about whether they’re abiding by “No one’s going to catch us doing anything.”
their lease.” As soon as they entered, Maria pressed
random floor buttons.
“We could get into trouble.”
“It would kill him. Nothing’s like The Plaza.
The Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor stayed “We’re just taking a ride. What would
here. My dad’s part of it, just by going to Dylan Thomas say?”
work. It’s fairy dust.”
“He didn’t know about elevators.”
The girls strolled to two brocade lounge
chairs and plopped down, watching guests. “Do not go gently, Connie!” Maria wagged
her finger. “And don’t act like you’re forty!”
A gray-haired woman wearing a stiff
persimmon mini-dress and white panty- “I don’t remember that last part,” Connie
hose approached the marbled registration teased back.
counter. She looked like a lollipop.
“Potential trick SAT question.”
Maria pointed at the woman. “Don’t see
any fairy dust there. Bet her chauffeur hates Fur Elise drifted through the speakers
her.” as Maria pinched her nose and danced the
Swim, wriggling down into a crouch. “Mys-
“The rich don’t care. They don’t have to tery Date. Who will you meet when the
care.” doors open?” she asked nasally.
“Sounds dull as dirt. Who’d want to join “A Kennedy, maybe. A big tipper. Someone
that club?” with a helicopter.”
“My father. Dad grew up in a boys’ home— “Anything else?”
his mother ran away to be the next Lana
Turner; his father was a drunk.” “Smart, so I’m not lonely.”
“I didn’t know. Geez.” Maria bit her lip. “You can’t kiss a brain, Connie.” Maria
studied her cleavage in the mirror, pushing
“Maybe I want to join that club, too,” her breasts together.
Connie’s panic returned. “What if there’s
a security camera?”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“Gives the cops something to watch.” “Come with me, girls.” Arnold towered
over them, putting one hand on Maria’s
“If my father loses his lease because of shoulder and the other on Connie’s as he
us, they’ll ground me until I’m old enough ushered them to the elevator. Maria qui-
to wear dentures.” etly mouthed to her, He’s a hunk. Connie
tried not to cry. How could she have been
“They’ll still let you go to college.” so reckless?
“It’s Good-bye, David Cassidy! No more They descended to the basement, a
Palm Court. No more waiters unfolding my dingy warren of rooms stacked with claw-
napkin.” Harder to explain, even to Maria, footed dressers and worn velvet chairs, a
was that she wanted to keep seeing the tri- garage sale for the rich. Arnold led them
umphant look on her father’s face when he into an office drenched in fluorescence.
told people where he worked. Cigarette-filled Styrofoam cups littered the
linoleum and a few brown metal folding
“What are you--a poodle?” chairs, which were scattered as if their oc-
cupants had jumped up and run away.
Chastened, Connie admitted, “I’m the
upside-down kettle sitting on a branch in “Animals,” Arnold muttered. He closed
a Highlights picture: find the thing that the door, which had a yellowed poster of
doesn’t belong.” Connie Francis that Connie recognized. She
had been named after the singer, whose
Maria declared, “O.K., Teapot. Take my story was used by her mother as another
picture!” She tossed her long, dark curls and cautionary tale: A woman earning a living
pouted. Connie pulled out her Instamatic on her own, singing in revealing dresses
and snapped pictures, saying in a deep voice, was easy prey for the lunatics who roamed
“Work with me! Work with me!” until they the world. It was a miracle she hadn’t been
were both laughing and out of breath. murdered.
Maria grew restless. “Let’s go to the Arnold grabbed a chair, spun it around
gift shop. This elevator’s going to make too and sat on it backward, leaning over the top,
many stops.” As soon as they stepped off, a stretching his legs out in front of him. He
tall man with a blonde crewcut intercepted looked at Connie with a sleepy half-smile,
them. He looked about twenty-five. Sharp but she did not forget that he was her judge
pleats divided each long leg of his navy and jury. She wondered if he smiled be-
trousers. He had lapis eyes and a faint trace cause he was thinking that the two of them
of Midwest drawing out his words. were idiots. This trouble that had landed
on her felt so different from the one time
“Hotel Security,” he said, flashing an ID. she came home fifteen minutes late, which
All Connie could read was the name “Ar- got her grounded for a weekend and dis-
nold.” He closed the wallet. appeared over pancakes and the Sunday
paper. For this trouble, her father could not
Maria muttered, “Marshall Dillon, at your plead her case between requests for the
service, Ma’am,” but Connie did not laugh. more maple syrup and quips about Charlie
Brown’s latest heartache. This trouble
“Where are you girls going?”
“The buttons were already pushed,”
Connie stammered. Maria rolled her eyes
and asked if he knew Peggy Lipton.
Revista Literária Adelaide
would reach beyond her to slap her father. noticed, for the first time, that his pinky
Its sting would never fade. finger bore a class ring with a yellow stone.
His fingers looked strong and neat, with
“Please have a seat.” Arnold gestured to white rounded nails and smooth skin.
the chairs in a courtly manner. He reminded
Connie of the maître-de in the Oak Room “You look like an actress. Has anyone ever
who had ushered her and her father to a told you that?”
lunch of grilled salmon and asparagus.
Connie brushed a lock of hair from her
The girls obeyed. eyes. “No Sir,” she said, feeling that she
had been pulled into the middle of a board
Arnold turned toward Connie and sur- game that someone else had made up. No
prised her with the gentleness of his ap- boy had ever complimented Connie like
praisal. “I think I’ve seen you here before.” that. He was looking at her in a way that
made her feel pretty, made her feel seen,
She shifted against the clammy metal. “I even in the middle of all the trouble they
come to work with my Dad sometimes.” were in. She had to stay focused. Arnold
was still in charge, and he had the power to
“Well that explains it,” he said, widening get her father thrown out of The Plaza.
his smile to reveal a small dimple on the
left side of his face. “I always remember the Maria broke the spell. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-four. Got this job right out of the
Out of the corner of her eye, Connie army. How old are you?”
saw Maria smirk, but she didn’t care. She
returned the smile and studied his face. His “Eighteen.” Only Maria could lie so quickly.
bright eyes suggested playfulness, that he
wasn’t half as serious as his job made him Connie’s heart sped up. Aronold was not
be. He was not as old or as serious as he that much older than they were; her Aunt
was pretending to be, and as he continued Trudy and Uncle Rob were ten years apart,
talking, she convinced herself that someone and they had four kids.
else must have written it, maybe even
forced him to memorize it. “Wow,” Maria said. “This is a very presti-
gious position, watching out for all of these
“Our guests expect a certain level of de- important guests. Will you let us go so you
corum here, as you might imagine. It is my job can get back to work?”
to give them what they want, which includes
ensuring that The Plaza maintains its ambi- “Not so fast, Miss. Some of the most fa-
ence,” he explained. It was a script spoken mous people in the world stay here. They
by an actor, just like the people who called don’t want to wait for their elevators. Even
on the phone insisting that a subscription to when they’re being ridden by a blonde
Redbook magazine would change their lives. cutie.” He looked at Connie as if she had
Maria nodded. “Yes, Sir. We understand.
We’re very sorry.” She crossed her long legs, Connie felt a flash of power as she gazed
pointing her painted toes in his direction, at Arnold. This must have been what Maria
but Arnold didn’t seem to pay attention. and her mother knew. She wanted to wield
it, the way they did, to see if, when she
“I appreciate your apology,” he said po- needed it the most, she could get what she
litely, then turned back to Connie, who
Adelaide Literary Magazine
wanted. She tilted her head and looked Arnold stood up with her. “Oh, Princess,
deep into his eyes. “We really are so very not yet.” He grabbed her wrist.
sorry. We never meant to cause trouble for
you or the hotel.” Shocked, Connie twisted in his grasp.
Arnold clenched his jaw. His eyes narrowed,
“I’ll bet. But I’m in a difficult position.” He his face hardened. Whatever power she
offered a sad half smile as he held her gaze. thought she had had melted like a tear.
Connie leaned toward him, and touched “Please,” she said.
his hand lightly. “Can’t you forget it?”
“Come on, Princess. If I just let you go,
Arnold sat up, expanding his chest as if I could get fired. That’s a lot to ask of me,
to reveal something written on it. “I get paid isn’t it?”
to remember. I’m the one who sees what
others can’t. Or won’t. I keep folks safe so Connie felt herself detaching as she
they can relax, so they don’t have to worry fought against the chaos of her thoughts.
about the underground.” She wondered, for a moment, what it would
feel like to be him. She wondered if he could
“What?” Maria demanded. see terror in her eyes, could feel the frantic
pulse racing under his fingertips. Only the
“The Plaza is just like Disney World. You words of regret, of apology and contrition
ride Space Mountain, eat candied apples had power enough to form and she hated
and walk around thinking it’s the friend- herself for that. “I’m sorry. We need to go.
liest, cleanest place in the world. Then My dad is waiting.”
you take their underground tour and
find out that there’s all this garbage get- He released her wrist. “You are so sweet.
ting whisked away, below, so the tourists Those eyes of yours--intense! Maybe we
never have to think about stinking diapers could let your girlfriend go back upstairs
and crushed ice cream cones. The Plaza and we could talk? Go upstairs to Palm
is like that. I manage their underground.” Court later for some ice cream?”
Arnold doffed an invisible hat. “Welcome,
Princess.” Maria erupted. “What’s the matter?
Can’t get a date?” Connie felt like a tiger cub
Connie laughed. “Please let us go. We being defended by its mother.
won’t do this again. It was just a crazy idea.”
Arnold gripped the back of his chair,
“Don’t you like your magic kingdom?” so that his ring rattled against the metal.
“Mind your own business, or you’ll be in
“I love The Plaza. It has so much excite- more trouble than you’ve bargained for.”
ment, so much fame and elegance.” She
wondered if he lived at the hotel some- “We’ll tell her father,” Maria threatened.
where, in payment for his work. He prob-
ably dined at the Oak Room every day. “You’ll get him evicted. He’s not a real
tenant.” Arnold raised his eyebrows in vic-
“Oh brother,” Maria groaned. tory. He had said what Connie had always
suspected her father felt. Arnold had un-
“We need to get back to my father,” earthed it and pressed it against her face.
Connie added. “He’s going to worry.” She
rose, as elegantly as she could, smoothing Connie stammered, “He pays rent like
out the wrinkles in her linen shorts. everybody else.”
Revista Literária Adelaide
Arnold stated flatly, “He’s not the same falling into his hands as he wound the ring-
and Management knows it. He’s not or- lets around his fingers.
dering room service and spa treatments.
He’s not giving the doorman twenty-dollar Connie’s stomach heaved.
tips or sending bouquets of gardenias to
Jackson Hole. He’s a working stiff, like the “Twenty dollars and no report to man-
rest of us.” agement, right?” Maria said, straightening.
She beamed at Arnold, then caught Con-
Maria stood up. “We’ll tell everyone.” nie’s gaze and glanced at her macramé bag.
Arnold’s face reddened, but his voice “Agreed. A fair exchange of services be-
remained calm and even. “Go ahead. Your tween two consenting adults.”
word against mine. Who’s more believable?
A security officer who served his country or Connie’s head pounded so hard that
a couple of giggling girls?” the room began to hum. The tiny freckles
on Maria’s nose--pale pinpoints that Maria
“You can’t do this,” Maria said. hated because she said they made her look
like a kid-- stood out in the harsh light. They
“I can do what I please. Today, for ex- reminded Connie of a trip they took to Point
ample, I feel like telling Management that Pleasant, where Maria had taught her how
her father,” he said, pointing at Connie, “lets to body surf against the cold, churning
his daughter run wild, that she’s disturbing ocean: “Don’t be afraid. Plunge in and ride!”
the other guests, vandalizing hotel property, Connie had winced and shivered at the salty
and putting them at risk.” chill and then, with her friend, stood in the
sun against the gritty waves and laughed.
“Please. It was such a tiny mistake.”
Connie choked against the whine escaping Maria sat down again next to Arnold
from her throat. and began murmuring in a low voice. He
closed his eyes and laced his hands behind
“You sound like the politicians that pa- his head in a relaxed cradle. “You can watch
rade through here every October.” His face if you’d like, Princess,” Arnold said languidly.
had reddened; his lips had thinned in anger.
Connie’s mind wandered to the proud
Maria took a deep breath and exhaled, look on her father’s face whenever he told
never taking her gaze away Arnold. “Look someone he had an office in the Plaza, and
you don’t need to get angry. Let’s think the Munch painting that he pointed out
about this,” she said, carefully. “I could use to visitors, and the silent maids in their
some spending money. I waitress and some- dark uniforms and flat rubber shoes who
times customers are looking for a little extra. were forever wiping ash from burnished
I know way more than Connie does.” metal cigarette trays with their rags. She
recalled the flowered Palm Court tea-
Arnold tipped his head back, narrowed cups, with eggshell porcelain so delicate
his eyes and inhaled as if to catch Maria’s she barely touched her lips to them. She
exhalations. He appraised the two girls. wondered what would happen if she went
“Connie. Constance. Beautiful name.” He there one day and, instead of sipping her
looked back at the poster on the door, then chamomile tea, bit down on the edge until
to Maria he said, “Maybe we can work it shattered.
something out. I like your hair.” He reached
up, and Maria bent down, her brown curls
Adelaide Literary Magazine
Reaching into her bag, Connie withdrew
the camera, and aimed it at Arnold’s square
She pressed the shutter release. Each
click fell clear as a shot.
As she ran with Maria, she thought her
sandals sounded like spurs.
About the Author
Lisa Lebduska directs the College Writing program at Wheaton
College in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in such journals
as Writing on the Edge, The Tishman Review, Lunch Ticket and
Narrative, among others. She lives in Salem, Connecticut, just off
Witch Meadow Road.
by John Riebow
The night air was crisp as he emerged a smoker could appreciate, like a cup of
from the heat of the crowded club. It was strong coffee that helped get him through
just after midnight and, thanks to a three the day, the benefits far outweighing the
quarter moon and a cloudless Septem- inevitable and injurious side effects.
ber sky, it was brighter outside than it had
been inside the shadowy venue. He was People were still emerging from the club
soaked, scalp damp, underarms and back doors, mere outlines as the house lights
of his neck dripping with perspiration, a blazed inside, while bartenders collected
half round stain on the front of his favorite glasses and threw away cups, and roadies
CLASH shirt. A breeze snaked between the packed up the gear to be carried out to the
tall buildings, down the flag-lined street, waiting van. He was in orbit around the
tossing leaves into a whirling vortex. He felt venue, a satellite caught by the powerful
a sudden chill and the immediate need for gravity of the gig, smoking as he lingered,
a cigarette. Pulling the crumpled pack from not wanting to break free just yet.
his shirt pocket, he rummaged his pants for
the lighter. What a show! The music had been so
fucking good: a Paul Weller cover band, a
The smoke crawled down his throat, quartet of guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums.
soothing and burning at the same time, They even did Jam, Who and Kinks songs
adding to the powerful solution that was to boot. They really killed it. And the audi-
flowing through his veins. Despite the ence was so down with everything, singing
warning on the pack, he never thought and clapping, bouncing, and chanting, “We
about the dangers of smoking. Just like the are the Mods. We are the Mods. We are,
beer he drank, everything these days came we are, we are the Mods” between songs,
with a dire message from the do-gooders while guitars were tuned or beers guzzled
that did nothing to halt production or con- from the stage. For a time, it all seemed a
sumption of the offending products. The bit like Pete Townshend’s Lifehouse con-
ciggies gave him a shot of something only cept, where everyone in the entire world,
the entire universe, was connected via a
Adelaide Literary Magazine
musical umbilical cord, one great, massive woman with the ex in jail that caused him
consciousness, melting into one another, a to have to unload his ticket on Stubhub. The
collective heartbeat. The connectivity now poor guy couldn’t seem to get his shit to-
severed, his mind was still racing. gether but was a good friend nonetheless. It
was a shame he couldn’t be there to share
People passed him on the way to their this moment. It was weird to have been so
cars or homes, laughing, screaming, singing. connected to everything, strangers none-
They pushed one another, hugged one an- theless, and now to find himself alone.
other, pulled one another, playful and ag-
gressive. Women giggled and men roared. It had been a wicked night. And he so
One rather husky woman with thick thighs needed it. The summer had been a bit of
had a petite friend with wild hair on her a bust; all he did was work his ass off, and
shoulders, staggered across the road as the didn’t get to do any of the things he had
upper torso flapped its arms like a disori- expected the season to hold: weekends at
entated bird. He watched some of the hot the beach, the three-day music festival in
legs and nice round asses in mini skirts re- the mountains, or the week he was going
cede into the night, wishing they might be to spend hiking the Appalachian trail. The
going where he was going. But it was not show had been a startling high in a summer
to be. He looked for the cute blonde who of relative lows.
was next to him for most of the night. She
had been so drunk and so free, dismissing He hadn’t expect to break up with
her disinterested boyfriend, or whatever he Carole either. Like his prospects for the
was, as she danced close and sang into his summer, things were pretty much shot to
face, her hand fleetingly brushing against his hell that night, when, as she fell asleep in
cock. It was all he could do to resist the urge his arms during the French movie she prom-
to kiss her. He thought about her regretfully, ised was going to be so good but turned out
knowing the mystical and departed creature to be excruciatingly dull (he was so bored
probably wouldn’t even remember him, not he didn’t even care when the chicks got
doubting that the lovely spirit had to be a naked), he picked up her vibrating phone
blast in the sack. “Bastard!” he spat, cursing from the floor and accidentally read the
his luck, cursing the universe, cursing himself. text. Seeing the first sentence had been
purely unintentional, but once the evidence
The crowd was thinning as he finished presented itself, he doggedly dug for more.
and flicked away the diminished smoke. To his immediate disgust, her phone was full
There wasn’t much to see any longer; the of playfulness and sexual innuendo, some-
gravity was ebbing, reality intruding. He thing they no longer shared, so it should not
supposed he had better get walking to his have been a surprise that Carole was seeing
car, four or so blocks away. As his sneak- someone else named Ted. But how could he
ered feet slapped the concrete pavement, not have known?
the back of his ears were still ringing and his
eyes were dry, but he hadn’t felt this good in He shook the phone at her in absolute
weeks and was so glad he decided to head fury. Her face turned sad but he could not
out, even after Paul canceled at the last see any trace of remorse. If anything, she
minute. Paul was always having some crisis seemed almost defiant, perhaps pleased to
or another. This time it was the psychotic have been caught out. “I’m sorry Jared,” she
sighed. “I really am.”
Revista Literária Adelaide
“Sorry for who, you or me?” he almost “As things do. As we did. This was just
spat. His pulse was racing and he couldn’t faster. I wasn’t looking for it.”
decide whether to cry or vomit.
“That makes everything so much easier,”
“For us.” he scoffed. “Your conscience is clear be-
cause you were not looking for someone
“Us!” he said with a mocking laugh. “You’re else to get into your pants. So, where does
sorry you’ve been caught.” that leave us?”
Carole shook her head. “I didn’t want it “Is there still an us?” She asked the ques-
to be like this. I wanted to tell you myself.” tion as if she knew the answer.
“Were you going to tell me before you left “I don’t think so. I don’t know. Right now,
on the honeymoon, or were you just waiting no.” He was angry, hurt, confused, wanting
to see if this other guy didn’t work out?” to lash out at something. He wanted to
smash her phone on the floor and punch
“It’s not easy to tell someone you care Texting Ted right in his face.
about that you have met someone else.”
Carole seemed resigned, almost con-
He continued to be dismayed by her lack tent as she nodded her head. “That’s fair
of tears, what he took as a total disregard enough. I would feel the same.”
for what they had. “But it’s easier to let the
person you care about find the texts that “Would you? Well, la de dah.” As much
say you have the best tasting pussy in the as he wanted to, he knew he couldn’t phys-
world?” ically hurt her, and even his words were
The defiance on her face turned to sudden
anger. “That was private! You shouldn’t have “I expect I would be pretty pissed if I
been reading my texts.” found out you were with someone else.”
Now it was his turn to be defiant. “Well, “But it’s ok for you?”
Ted whoever the fuck’s text invaded MY pri-
vacy.” “No. Yes. Well, it was obvious we weren’t
“I really didn’t mean for you to find out
this way, but things happened so quickly. Her last statement was like she had
This wasn’t expected.” picked him up and pile-driven him right into
“Is that supposed to make me feel better,
Carole?” “It was? I tell ya, it wasn’t fucking obvious
to me, Carole. I thought we were serious.
“No. Of course not.” Two years is pretty damned serious, right?
But not serious enough, I guess.”
“So that’s it?”
That had been the end of May, just two
“I am truly sad it came out like this. It just weeks before his 28th birthday, a drunken
evolved.” night with his brother Nick, best forgotten,
bar hopping for half the evening and puking
“Like a fungus.” He could not believe the his guts out until dawn. He was sick of her
expression on her face. She didn’t look sad
at all and seemed almost relieved that the
truth was now out in the open.
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and missing her and wishing they had never He watched the smoke dissipate and
met, but had somehow resisted the urge moved to go but found a hand on his arm,
to call or text her. She left his apartment not tight but menacing, certainly surprising.
that night, not long after the fight, with her He realized the conversation was heading
purse and her favorite pair of boots from into confrontation, and like the girl in the
the closet but never came back for the rest club who danced in his face, he struggled to
of her stuff. The books, music and trinkets keep his urges in check, like his grandfather
they shared apparently held less value to had taught him. If he had been anything like
her than their relationship. Aside from spot- his worthless old man, he would have decked
ting a car that looked like hers at the Chick the kid and kicked him in the balls to boot.
Fil-A drive thru window a few weeks later, No matter how this boy tried to play the
he never saw her again. In a complete and hard villain, he was just a kid, and after the
tear-filled rage, he tore clothes from the amazing night he had just had, Jared tried not
drawers, scooped makeup off the bureau, to think that the shadowy figure could have a
emptied her prescriptions from the med- knife or even a gun; he was just a kid.
icine cabinet, and stuffed everything with
the faintest link to her into black trash bags “Now how about some cash?”
that still lay in the bottom of his bedroom
closet. The voice was trying sound weighty
but came out rather mousey. Jared pulled
“One day, I’ll toss that shit,” he mouthed. away from the grip and started to walk, not
“One day.” too fast; he was not about to give the kid
the satisfaction of seeing him run. “I’m all
“Hey brother, got a light?” A voice came tapped out, friend.” He just wanted to get
from the shadows, startling. Suddenly, the away. Wherever it was heading, the night
last night with Carole was a million years had been too good for it to end like this.
ago and he was back on the dark city streets,
alone, as he had been since she walked out The youth pursued, a few paces behind.
the door. “Just a little. You know, help a guy out.”
The question was from a tall black kid, “I’m sorry, but no.” He tried to be firm,
not much older than maybe sixteen, in a solid, perhaps he could scare the kid off.
dark hoodie and black jeans that hung low, Maybe he should use his Christian Bale
wearing a backpack, leaning casually against Batman voice.
a building, offering a pleading smile.
“No?” the youth cried in disbelief, stop-
“Uh, sure.” ping his feet on a metal basement door. The
sound echoed into the night, menacing.
He stopped, pulled the lighter from
his pants, tossed it to the kid. The youth “Yes, no.” He stopped as the echo died,
slowly lit his cigarette, warily watching as then moved away again.
he brought the flame to his face, hesitating
before he handed the lighter back. The youth was alongside him, shuffling
in a weird sideways gait. “That’s not cool.”
“Cool. Cool. Cool.” The youth mouthed,
blowing smoke into the air. “I don’t have anything,” he insisted.
“No problem.” “Come on. Not even some change?” The
voice was almost breathless. Was the kid
Revista Literária Adelaide
“No. Nothing.” heartstrings and elicit some sympathy that
would undoubtedly be played to his disad-
“You don’t look like you got nothing,” the vantage. Maybe he was being softened up
kid accused. “Your clothes is alright. I bet for the kill. Maybe there was a silent helper
you got a nice phone.” lurking in the shadows, ready to beat him to
a pulp with a baseball bat. Not matter how
He stopped and turned to face the kid, good he felt, he had to remember that this
who seemed momentarily relieved that the was still the city with the second highest
chase had halted. “Seriously? Shorts and a murder rate in the entire country. He was
sweaty tee shirt make me look like I have smart enough to know that the house al-
money? Well, I don’t. And you would laugh ways won and the player was a sucker, so
your ass off if I showed you my flip phone.” he was not about to place a bet.
The kid was briefly startled but quickly He stopped and turned. “You’re doing a
regained his composure. He loomed close, good job of trying to make me feel sorry for
almost eye-to-eye. “I bet you got plastic,” you. But I don’t have anything, least of all a
he squinted. Jared wondered, did he need heart. That was ripped out a few months ago.
glasses? “You can just go to the machine Not that you would understand, or care.”
in that store over there and get out a few
greenbacks for your buddy.” “I’m not asking for much, bro. You think I
am unworthy of bare necessities?”
His plea was almost like a joke, or a child
nagging a parent, holding little menace. “Not at all, Baloo.”
“I can’t do that,” Jared said with a mocking The kid stared for a long moment then
laugh that turned the kid’s face sour. smiled as he fathomed the reference.
“Why not?” “Then just share a little green. It’s Friday,
man. You’ve been out having a good time.
“Look man, I work in a warehouse, put- I know you had a good time, I can see it
ting spools of wire up on racks and taking on your face. You probably been drinking,
them down again, over and fucking over. I staring at titties, and getting lap dances all
had a long day and just want to go home.” night, so how about you share some of that
love in your heart.”
“And get something to eat? Crawl into
your warm bed? Have a smoke before you The kid was grinning now, all trace of
drift off to sleep and dream your sweet menace evaporated after the Jungle Book
dreams. Don’t I deserve the same?” reference.
“I’m not stopping you.” “Little man, I already told you that I don’t
have any money. I’m not kidding. Look, how
He stormed off, a little faster. His pursuer about I give you my cigarettes? And my
did not follow. lighter? You can have that too.”
“I’m hungry, man!” the kid called into the He handed the pack and lighter across
night. “Help a brother out.” to the kid, who scooped the offerings with
outstretched hands, as if trying to collect
The kid played a good game, he had drops of rain in a storm. No more words
to give him that. But Jared wasn’t buying. were spoken as Jared moved away.
The pleas were no better than a round of
three-card Monte, designed to pull at his
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Maybe because he expected the worst as “You never seem to be in the present, to
he turned his back, Jared suddenly thought appreciate the moment; a little piece of you
of his older brother. If he could see him now, always has to be questioning every decision
he knew Nick would have called him a fool you make, like you are unsure if you are
for tolerating such harassment, or taking even happy or not. One day Jared, I hope
his eyes off a potentially armed assailant. you find peace with yourself.”
“Never engage with those crack heads, J.
Think of yourself, your safety first. Knock em She didn’t even offer a friendly kiss, let
down and get the hell out of there.” alone a passionate farewell, before she
stepped out into the darkness, presumably
He could have knocked the kid down, or into the waiting arms of Texting Ted. She
pushed him aside and ran, but for all his may as well have slapped his face.
inflated bravado, it was just a young man
trying to make his way in the world, and He was relieved to fall into the seat un-
that was something he could hardly fault harmed and surprised himself when he
the kid. locked the doors. He started the car. Paul
Weller blared from the speakers. For a brief
His car was just a block ahead. He could moment, he was back in that hot, dark
see it under the street lamp and knew that room, feeling connected to the entire uni-
if he were in a Hollywood horror flick, he verse, like he had finally found his proper
would reach his door but then the knife or place in the world. That instance seemed
gun would suddenly hit him in the back as a lifetime ago and no time at all, a place
suspenseful music blared and the audience where Jared Richards was a mere idea and
was startled, spilling their popcorn. He fum- Carole Poole a figment of someone’s fe-
bled in his pocket for the keys, trying to get vered imagination. But the song ended and
the door key into his fingers, wondering the sensation was fleeting. He began to
how quickly he could open the door and experience something new creep over him
dash inside. (fear? anger?). It gripped his chest like a fist
clenched around his heart. He was breath-
As he opened the door, Carole’s voice less as he put the car into gear and drove off
suddenly came into his head, the words into the night, thinking maybe it was time
she said before walking out the door that he heeded the warnings on the packet and
he didn’t understand until that very minute. gave up smoking.
About the Author
John Riebow was born and raised in Philadelphia, where
he attended the W. B. School High School of Agriculture
Sciences, majoring in Horticulture. He holds a Bachelor of
Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Temple
University, is a LEED-Accredited Professional, and serves as
Director of Design for a design-build-development general
WE ARE WAITING
by Chrissie Molitor
I’m on break when I get the call from Gram. head as I push through the back door to
I listen and nod along, pretending my heart relieve some of the literal pressure, since
isn’t seizing in my chest. “Keep me posted,” there isn’t much to do about the figurative.
I tell her, and she sighs in exasperation. The sun, fiercely orange, is just cresting the
horizon. I lean against the painted cinder-
It’s the middle of the night, and Liv is block and suck in a deep breath before I call
staying at a friend’s house. She texts me to Liv back.
say she’s coming home. It’s unsettling how
comfortable my sister and I have gotten “I don’t want to be here alone,” she an-
with this routine, how we know better than nounces.
to run directly to the hospital as soon as we
get the call. How instead we just…go about I sigh and knead at the back of my neck,
our day the best we can. Then again, it’s not resisting the urge to tell her that she should
like we don’t have time to kill. We won’t be have thought of that before. “I can bring
allowed in the room until after eight. you back here, but I have to finish my shift.”
I’m hardly a ripple in the water here. They
At a quarter to six, my cell phone again don’t me, but we need the money. And it
buzzes in the pocket of my jeans. I’m not beats the alternative.
supposed to have it on me, but it’s practi-
cally impossible to enforce such a rule these “Okay,” Liv agrees, too easily.
days. I finish punching in the order of the
family at the counter. The woman has an “I’ll be there in ten.” I disconnect the call
aggressively blonde dye job and too much and knock my head lightly against the wall,
foundation, and her GQ husband tries to wishing I had two minutes to spare for that
corral the three children currently shrieking pretend cigarette.
as they run through the Burger House lobby.
It’s a controlled, unfamiliar sort of chaos, During my interview, I’d bluntly told the
and the sight of it makes my chest ache. hiring manager that an inflexible schedule
was a deal breaker, and I would have an ab-
The couple herds their rambunctious normal number of emergencies arise. They
pack toward a booth and I catch Marty’s hired me anyway, probably out of desper-
eye, mime smoking a cigarette. He shrugs, ation, probably underestimating my situa-
which isn’t so much a sign of permission tion. There’s a lot of guilt now over getting
as it is surrender. I drag the visor from my pissed when it happens. Having a terminally
ill parent gets you a pass on a lot of things
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but even so, holding down a job is tough Liv emerges from the house, locks the
for someone in my position. But place like door behind her. She drops into the car with
this? I’m here more than I’m not, and they a huff, and I immediately wrinkle my nose.
can’t afford to lose me. It works both ways,
because I can’t afford to not work. “What’s that smell?”
I rap my knuckles against the door so the “I made a cake.”
pimply-faced kid manning the drive-thru
booth will let me back in the building and “How?” I ask, shifting the car into reverse.
make a beeline for Marty. “I’ve gotta get my Even if we never eat it, I understand why.
sister.” Liv made a cake for the same reason I’m
hauling her scrawny Betty Crocker ass back
I should probably ask but, let’s face it; to Burger House with me. To delay the in-
the guy’s running the graveyard shift at a evitable.
third-rate burger joint, so how much say
does he really have in anything? He raises She quirks an eyebrow, but I stand by
his eyebrows. my question. No way in hell could I hope to
make a cake now at nearly twenty, let alone
“I’ll be right back,” I relent. at thirteen.
Rohrman 2 It’s another way in which we are achingly
different and growing apart more by the day.
“Okay.” We might live in the same house, but I don’t
really know her. Mom first got sick when Liv
“Okay.” was just seven, hardly even a person. We’d
been closer then, even acted like sisters.
*** We’re practically strangers now, affected and
changed. Something inside shuts down in a
Dad is on the road. It happens more often life like this; it’s just easier that way. Our sister-
than not, that I’m the one left to manage hood was collateral damage of Mom’s illness.
the aftermath. Far as I know he’ll head back If I really try, I think I can imagine the woman
as soon as he’s able, but it will still be to- Liv will eventually be, and I wonder if this fan-
morrow night before we see him. It’s just tasy woman is the kind of person I would be
as well. Even when he’s here, it’s like he’s friends with, let alone stand to be around.
not. He hit the wall when I was seventeen,
around the time I lost the inclination to Probably not, I settle on, and the reali-
care about schoolwork. It’s a miracle I grad- zation barely even stings. I’ve known for a
uated. while now that once it finally happens, we
won’t fit into each other’s lives anymore.
I wait in the driveway, engine running. I This prolonged limbo is the glue keeping us
prop my elbow on the door and palm my together.
forehead and think about all the things
I should be doing right now. Like college. Liv crosses her arms and slouches in the
Dating. Friends. Mom has told me – has passenger seat, looking put-upon. Like she
begged me – not to give up my own life in didn’t call begging for my company.
exchange for hers, but it’s easier said than
done. And there’s so much I have to do, We’ve been through this song and dance
taking care of her, it’s doubtful she notices so many times I’ve lost count. The worry
everything I’m not. and fear that follow the call look and sound
Revista Literária Adelaide
different on each of us. For Liv, it’s per- ***
petual annoyance. For Dad, it’s avoidance.
And me? I’m just going through the motions. Every time I walk through these sliding
glass doors, I think, this is it. This is the day
Each time the phone rings, it could be I will have finally grown immune to the
the call, and I suppose I’m already steeling smell. And every time, I’m wrong. There’s
myself for it, solidifying the wall around my no hope of developing an immunity to this
heart. Today, the panic, the fear, the worry scent. This stinging, sterile odor.
– they’ve all been experienced in a rapid
succession of brief but intense sensations, Liv finally exhibits the adolescent
quickly replaced by the bleak, emotionless clinginess that had her calling me at work,
void I’ve been crafting inside. presses close to me as we move wordlessly
through the lobby toward the bank of ele-
I pull into a space at the back of the vators. I punch the button, and it’s a silent
restaurant. Employees are supposed to park ride to the fifth floor.
in the lot across the street, but I don’t give
a shit, and no one here can be bothered to My gaze reflexively goes to the first clock
make me. we pass; twenty minutes before visiting
hours resume. I steer Liv into the family
In the harsh fluorescent lighting, I can waiting room around the corner. Gram is
see now that Liv has been crying, and I’m already here – or here still, since she’s the
forced to remind myself that, for all my one who got Mom to the hospital at the first
jaded outlook on what I laughingly call my warning sign. She’s perched stiffly in an arm-
life, she’s just a kid. Too young still to train chair, purse on her lap. A Styrofoam cup of
herself not to feel. And this is all the support coffee is on the table next to her elbow, and
I have to offer her: a break room the size of it looks full despite the lack of visible steam.
a closet with a dusty television that hasn’t
worked in months. She clucks her tongue as we settle into
a pair of uncomfortable chairs. “I wish you
She surveys the small space, which ad- wouldn’t wear your hair like that, Kara,” she
mittedly reeks of fryer oil and BO. “What am says by way of greeting. Gram wears her
I supposed to do?” stress like a judgmental bitch.
Marty knocks on the door behind me, a I cut her some slack and don’t rise to the
quick rap that tells me my grace period is up. bait, just tuck a loose strand behind my ear.
“I don’t know. Color or something.”
This is the worst part; the waiting. But,
She blinks at me, and I roll my eyes. I really, that’s all we do. All I do. Wait. I turn to
check the time on the clock, its plastic Liv, frown. “Do you have homework to do?”
cover fogged with atmospheric grease
stains. There’s almost an hour left of my “It’s July.”
shift, and I don’t know what Liv wants from
me. She has one of those child-lock phones Somehow, this surprises me. I chew my
that won’t let her do more than call and text thumbnail, which is already gnawed down
and won’t keep her occupied. I tug my own to a jagged stub, and I think, how the hell
cell free of my pocket, hand it over. “If you do I not even know what month it is? How
tweet from my account, I’ll shave your head is this my life?
in your sleep.”
The past six years, I’ve had to be selfless
and practical, all the things a teenager isn’t
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meant to be. I’m over it. I’m not supposed The nervous anticipation turns my
to be, I’m not allowed to be, but I am. Some- stomach, and I swallow with difficulty. “Come
times I get caught up daydreaming of what on.” I stand, and Liv follows my lead.
life will be like when this is all over. And I
feel…good. Calm. Mom smiles when we enter the room,
the sort of full-face grin that chips away at
And then, inevitably, I feel awful. the carefully constructed wall around my
heart, because she’s the strongest person
So, I push the daydreams aside, and re- I’ve ever known. She’s been waiting too,
main hopeful. I have to, not just for Mom for us, knowing we’d be here as soon as
and Dad and Liv but for me, too. Without we were permitted. She’s had a scare, but
hope all I have is the sickening realization she’s stable, in good spirits, and should be
that my life won’t truly begin until hers ends. released by tomorrow afternoon. It’s a re-
lief and a burden at the same time. Dad will
At eight o’clock on the dot, Gram gives likely work out the remainder of his route
us a meaningful look before leaving the now, leaving me to solo caretaking duties
room, coffee forgotten. The silence left in until the weekend.
her wake is deafening.
She’s going to be fine. This time. But
“We should go in,” I finally say, probably we all know we’ll be right back here in two
too loudly. weeks. A month. Three months.
“Yeah.” And in the meantime, we’ll all strengthen
our internal defense mechanisms, and we’ll
But neither of us moves. Something all turn down the emotional dials another
on Food Network drones low in the back- notch, and we’ll all retreat a little further
ground as we relish these last few moments into ourselves. And we’ll pretend that when
of freedom, before we enter the next stage we finally get the call, there won’t be a little
of our cyclical routine. bit of relief mingled in with the hurt.
What will I do, if this is it? If the doctor
doesn’t have good news for us this time,
and this is really it?
SMELL OF LEATHER
by Vivek Nath Mishra
After a long day, Subba walked down a nar- He took his Kurta off and wiped his
row alley passing several sleeping, ruminat- face, chest and armpits with it raising his
ing cows in the middle of the street, per- hands above his head. His dark skinned
turbing the sleep of stray dogs curled up in torso shined in the dim sodium light. Subba
the betrayed corners. He reached his house threw the kurta in a corner, slithered out
in the dark and took out the key from his of his pyjamas and wrapped a lungi round
pocket. He kept wiping the beads of perspi- his waist. He then dropped himself on the
ration oozing on his forehead with the end small bed in the corner of his room which
of his shirt. His whole body had a tremor was crammed with clothes, utensils and
and it ran from his feet up to his hands and his son’s books. He had planned to sell all
the keys fumbled in his hands as he took those books as it was all needless to collect
it out from his pocket. The key didn’t turn now but it was more difficult to part with it
easily in the lock, perhaps, it needed oiling, than he had thought. Sight of those books
some lubrication to unlock. He struggled was associated with the memory of his son
with it for a while, drenched completely in reading in this very corner and he wanted
sweat and looked like as if he had come out this memory to stay there- untouched and
straight from a shower. Suddenly, he ob- safe.
served that he was using the wrong key. He
fumbled and took out the right key. The lock His body smelled of blood, flesh and
opened after much difficulty. Sometimes we leather. It never disturbed him before but
just don’t use the right key and keep forcing now it was the smell and sight which was
it the wrong way and eventually break the quite impossible for him to stand, although,
lock, Subba reflected. Subba unlatched the he had no way to escape. He knew only
door and went in shutting the door behind this work like his ancestors. It had been his
him. An ear-splitting silence pervaded the daily routine since he was thirteen years
room. It was pitch dark everywhere and old when he had chopped a live stock for
he stepped forward gingerly, reaching out the first time. And it became a routine after
his hands to the wall for the switchboard. that as mechanical as brushing teeth in the
He turned on the light. The yellow sodium morning. He had a flat porous rock in the
light lit all the corners of the room except shop and he would wet it with water, then
the one place, his heart that remained dark, he would rub the edge of his knife on the
gloomy and hopeless. rock for several minutes. He would sharpen
his knife daily. Then he would grab a chicken
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by its leg and pull it out from a dirty, dingy There was not even a hint of breeze that
cage which smelled of urine and chicken day and humidity was unbearable. He was
poop. Chicken would keep cackling as he sweating all the time and his eyes were
grabbed it out. Customers would stand burning. Subba drew a bucket of water
there covering their noses and mouths with from the well and poured it over, mumbling
a handkerchief. The stench of the place re- something to himself. He went inside all
mained unbearable but all these never af- drenched and dripping with water. He then
fected Subba. He remained oblivious of all changed to another lungi, combed his hair
that. neatly in front of a mirror but still the smell
of blood and meat remained adhered to his
He would put the chicken on the piece of body odour. He felt like asking someone if
rock and then would slit its throat without he still smelled like blood, if it’s not just his
giving it a second thought. He would let the imagination, but there was no one to answer.
blood pour down in a bucket as the chicken
fluttered helplessly in pain. He would wait Subba went in to his small dingy kitchen.
for the last drop of blood to trickle down. He saw the dirty utensils piled up in a corner,
Then he would pull the feathers off its skin flies buzzing around it. He sat on a low stool
and begin chopping its legs and wings one and began scrubbing a few pots and plates,
by one. It all remained mechanical for him. rest he would do tomorrow morning, he
He would slice the meat into the smallest thought. He felt too tired and was reluc-
possible pieces and then would pack it all tant to cook but he also felt a fire of hunger
in a plastic bag and hand it over to the cus- burning inside him. Subba always felt more
tomers. But now his hands shivered as he hungry when he was sad and depressed.
tried grabbing a chicken; his whole body He kept a pot full of rice on the boiler and
trembled like a child suffering from ma- began recalling his past few years.
laria. He couldn’t imagine himself doing
that. How come it remained so mechanical Subba’s wife had died during the de-
for him for so many years! How come he livery of her first son. Subba’s sister had as-
never heard those cries before! How come sisted him when he was completely broken
he never noticed the terror in a chicken’s and alone. In the most difficult phase of his
eyes! Now he witnessed the horror. Every life Subba counted on his sister. She was the
time he killed a life, image of his own son first to come there on the news of her sis-
bleeding to death began dancing in front of ter-in-law’s death but didn’t leave immedi-
his eyes. ately as all the rites were over after thirteen
days. She looked after the infant for several
Subba picked up a bucket and headed months but then for how long somebody is
to the backyard where there was a small going to struggle for somebody else. How
dilapidated well and a huge Peepul tree long his sister could stay with him? As the
stood still just next to it. A small Banyan child began walking and was almost one
shoot had taken roots on the surrounding and a half year old his sister went back to
walls of the well. It would become gigantic her husband. Her father-in-law was not very
in a few years and might bring down the en- happy with her staying at Subba’s for long.
tire well. The small shoot could do that. He He kept persisting his son to bring back his
must eradicate it by its root in time, Subba daughter-in-law soon. After Subba’s sister
thought. left, Subba would take Kooku, his son, to the
Revista Literária Adelaide
shop with him but tied the child’s legs with was cooked, Subba sliced an onion and a
a rope as the child ran after the sharp knife tomato and poured a few drops of mustard
and would play with meat and blood all day. oil in it and mixed it all. He did only perfunc-
The child fell to sleep daily after crying his tory cooking after his son’s death; he lost
heart out. Raising this child was Subba’s all his interest in cooking. He used to cook
biggest dream. He didn’t even know if he so many varieties of dishes for his son and
had any other desire. He was completely it contented him to see his child relishing it
occupied. His son was his only dream, his all. The curry plant was still there in the pot
only aspiration. The child grew anyhow and outside in the veranda. Subba had planted
began going to school. It gave Subba more it so that he could put some curry leaves in
space and relaxation. The child would re- sambhar and chutney that Kooku devoured
turn home on a rickshaw from school and greedily. But the plant was drooping now,
Subba would roll down the shutters in the the leaves looked withered and the earth
afternoon to return home before Kooku parched. He must water it today, Subba de-
reached there. He fed Kooku and took him cided. Now his cooking was limited to filling
to the shop with him for the rest of the day. up his vile stomach. He observed that not
Kooku would keep playing in the street with much of the mustard oil was left in the jar. He
little children and Subba kept an eye over would buy a packet from the grocery shop
him while going through his daily course. tomorrow while returning from the shop on
his way home. Subba scooped some water
Soon, Kooku had a thin layer of mous- in his hands, sprinkled it on the floor and
tache and Subba’s hair on the temple had swept it with a broom. He then rolled out a
begun greying when Kooku started assisting mat with frayed corners on the floor. He had
him at the shop. He was growing up well. barely sat to eat when he heard a persistent
Now he returned home from school on his knock on the door. It was Kalawati on the
own bicycle and helped himself to lunch. door. An old widow who lived with her only
Now Subba didn’t have to shut the shop son and his wife. She lived next door and
in the afternoon. Subba dreamt of his son was very fond of Kooku. She had a corpulent
working in an office far from this dirty meat built and walked limping. She came in strug-
shop. He would always stop Kooku from gling to catch her breath and sat on the floor
coming to the shop. with great effort.
This much was Subba’s life, this much he “What a lovely child he was! This world
aspired to live. has gone to dogs. There’s no sanity. I
couldn’t come earlier. You see I’m always
The world looked a satisfactory place sick. This old age is a sin, Subba. Everyone
then. Seeing his own child playing with other seems insanely inclined to cultivating hatred,
children in the street filled his heart. But ev- Subba. Just yesterday, Bhola was telling me
erything said about heart and its tenderness that somebody has thrown some acid on
is rubbish. Killing is as casual as breathing at the bull who roamed about here. What is
the present times. Perhaps, the world has its fault? Why are they making it a victim
everything but a heart. There’s too much of their retaliation? They keep killing one
concrete for a heart to thrive, perhaps. another in the name of religion. I fed that
Nandi everyday. Now he’s burned so badly
Subba’s train of thought broke as he that his bones are exposed.”
heard the water bubbling. After the rice
Adelaide Literary Magazine
Subba sat on the stool and began eating shop but he begged and convinced them of
with his fingers. His eyes were brimmed his honesty that he couldn’t even dream of
with tears. He remembered how Kalawati doing that. But the mob never trusted him
kept calling Kooku from the street as he fully.
went to the school. She would call him out,
“Oh Rajkumar! Wouldn’t you take me with “He’s a liar. How many times we have
you to the school today? found the carcasses of the cows on the out-
skirts of the city. Who else could do that if
“Wouldn’t you tell me what your teachers not you? We warn you one last time or we’ll
taught you today? She would say in a loving be compelled to take the law in our hands.
manner as Kooku returned from school. Better you save your life,” a young man had
hollered from the crowd that day.
It all reminded him more of his son and
he hung his head low unable to look into “Pull his beard, that bastard will learn no
the eyes of Kalawati. other way,” other one screamed.
“I’ll be leaving now. I’m on a fast today. “Burn his skull cap,” a raised voice came
I’m fasting every Tuesday, you know. If you from the crowd.
need anything please let us know. We are
your family just round the corner. Don’t His son was there and his young blood
stress yourself out. God is watching,” said boiled as he witnessed his father’s insult.
Kalawati rising on her feet. His eyes were bloodshot. He couldn’t bear
all the humiliations piled on his father.
“Wouldn’t you take tea? I was just going
to make for myself,” said Subba with quiv- “Yes, we killed a cow. What will you do?
ering lips, still trying to stop his tears. Don’t try to scare us. We are not some cow-
ards,” he had said jumping on his feet.
“O poor child, don’t bother please. You
already looked drained.” Subba pounced on him, grabbed him by
his arm and threw him away in the corner,
Subba latched the door as Kalawati left “don’t say a word, Kooku. Have you gone
and went to his bed. He kept twisting and mad? Just shut up, not a word anymore.”
twirling in the bed but the cruel sleep kept
eluding him till late past the midnight. No “He’s a child. Please forgive him. He’s a
matter how much he tried to think of other fool, complete idiot,” Subba begged.
things, the image of his son’s throat get-
ting slashed swiftly in one go kept coming “Subba, keep your child under control.
to him. He would throw his arms in the air Better don’t try our patience or test our tol-
with anxiety and sit up. His dreams were erance. He wouldn’t be young for long oth-
more cruel than reality. erwise,” threatened someone from the mob.
There was a rumour in the city that Subba, They had a hot talk that evening. Kooku
after pulling down the shutters of his shop, told Subba that he was ashamed of his
went to a slaughter house and slaughtered cowardice. One has to shed all the cow-
beefs secretly to make some extra money. ardice to live peacefully in this world. Had
The hostility towards him was afire in the he let him handle the matter all the threats
mob. A group of barbarians, brandishing would have turned into a farce, Kooku had
flags, had besieged him many times at his shouted. Subba had thrown him out of the
Revista Literária Adelaide
This was now a daily affair. Subba had football. Each day as he went past this field
thought it out several times to switch his worl he felt like he saw his own son playing. He
but what else he could do! What else did he noticed some shadow. He would stand
know? Like his ancestors he knew only chop- there still for several minutes just to see
ping meat and slaughtering chickens and goats. the game. The laughter of children running
There had always been clashes between dif- about the field gave him some ephemeral
ferent religions but this propaganda had come sympathy.
into existence very recently. Nobody had even
the faintest idea of how to handle it. That day it was raining heavily when
Subba was going round the field. Like any
One evening when Subba returned other day he saw children playing football.
home he found the doors of his room wide He could see his own son’s shadow in the
open. He thought his son might have gone field. But that day it was a different scene
to the field to play cricket and forgot to latch there. Children were laughing uncontrol-
the door. He was very indignant. How could lably as a cow had sieged the ball and
Kooku be so careless? But as he approached was not letting it go. A boy ran behind the
near he saw a river of blood coursing down cow and tried to shoo it away but the cow
the floor. He ran in shouting and trembling. guarded the ball as if it was its calf. Subba
It was his son bleeding profusely on the didn’t find any humour in it. In fact, the
floor, his clothes soaked in blood. A stream whole scene reminded him of something
of blood was gushing out. After seeing his else. He couldn’t comprehend it the other
son fluttering in pain he ran everywhere, way. The ball was of leather, he observed.
stumbling, shivering with fear but lost his Did the smell of leather remind the cow of
voice and had fainted down right there. its calf, he reasoned. Suddenly a boy ran
Next day the newspaper was fully covered towards the ball and hit it in a direction of
with the news of lynching. A police com- other boy and they began passing the ball
plaint was lodged and a few suspicious mo- to one another and the cow ran behind it in
lesters were put behind the bars but Subba all the directions like a lunatic. The group
had lost his ability to speak. He knew that broke out in a ruckus. Subba couldn’t see
his son was not coming back. From that day all that and he ran behind the boys shouting
the sight of blood made him shiver terribly, at them, at the top of his voice, to stop but
however, life goes on with its cruel intent. his voice drowned in the uproar of laughter.
Subba knew no other work. He had a knife Subba kept running hither and thither after
with which he could commit suicide but his the boys, pleading them to stop this humil-
hands trembled as he held the knife. Per- iation. The whole incidence was choking
haps, he didn’t have enough strength to sui- him. He ran in all the directions similarly
cide. Perhaps, this was enough bloodshed. like the cow did. Perhaps, both were in the
same whirl of emotions. The whole scene
In a moment, Subba’s life was turned was filled with mad commotion. Suddenly,
upside down. There was no ray of hope Subba’s slippers got stuck in the mud and
through which he could lead his life. He he fell down on the ground as the laughter
spent his days like a dead man sitting at the kept roaring. It was a deafening sound for
shop, following the daily routine. him. He felt it piercing through his ears.
Subba kept lying down there, enveloped in
The only thing that gave Subba some a layer of mud, breathing heavily. He had
air was the field where his son used to play
Adelaide Literary Magazine
no strength even to rise on his feet. He felt
drained. He kept staring at the dark clouds
which rained down ruthlessly. He closed his
eyes and dreaded that his voice would prob-
ably go unnoticed like the smell of leather.
About the Author
Vivek Nath Mishra is a writer and photographer residing
in Varanasi, India. His short stories have appeared on many
platforms including The Hindu, Muse India, The Punch
magazine and Queen mob’s teahouse. His photographs
have appeared in several magazines including The
Guardian and Sahapedia. His debut book is ‘Birdsongs of
Love and Despair’.
TELL A FRIEND
by Colin Gallagher
While walking up Sunset Street in Seattle, for the grandkid’s birthday party. What do
Washington, I pass office buildings, parking ya say?”
lots, restaurants and other businesses. I be-
lieve I had seen it all, yet to my surprise, I I was dumbfounded. Could this really be
come across an outdoor flying saucer sales happening? After catching my breath, “An
and lease service center. I know that tech- X87 Turbo cruiser huh. Well, sure. I’ll check
nology is advancing in the USA but this is it out!”
“Great! This little model is fresh off the
It is 2035 and I will be retiring from own- production line. Came in first place at the
ership of a CPA firm where I spent the last inter-planetary race earlier this month. It
thirty years consulting and hunching over kicked the crap out of the Chinese Dong-Fu
my desk juggling figures and accounts on in- model. This little baby was built to last and
come statements, balance sheets, inventory will keep you traveling for years and years
sales and profit margins from my company’s to come.”
customer base. I am done with the stress.
“What’s next? A test flight?” I ask.
Standing outside on the sidewalk in front
of the saucer dealership before heading “Sure, we can do that. Follow me!”
back to my hotel, a salesman is approaching
me. “Hi, how ya doin’ today! Can I interest “We’ll just need to run a quick credit check.”
you in this little run-about? It is the perfect he said as we walked toward his office. “It’s
vehicle for a hop, skip and jump to anyplace company policy before we take a test flight.
in the solar system?” he said, pointing to What’s your social security number?”
one of his smaller saucers. “The X87 turbo
cruiser gets up to Mach 5 in the earth’s at- He left the office and came back in about
mosphere and has an automated re-entry two minutes with a big smile.
system second to none. Four travelers fit
comfortably and everyone gets his own “Great number you have a credit score of
window to observe the show out in the 789. Let’s do that test flight!”
realm of the sun. Just perfect for that solar
system cruise. Take the family out to Jupiter, Walking to the sporty little model that
look at that big red spot then come back he was promoting, the salesman put a key
card into the anti-radiance security sleeve.
“This is just a formality as your card will
open the sleeve as you approach.”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“This sounds so fantastic. Is it very com- After twenty seconds, “You can unfasten
plicated?” your seat belt now and relax. Would you like
“I have this model and my little grandson
does a lot of these preliminary chores. It is “Sure!”
so easy a monkey could do it. You’ll see!”
“What’s your pleasure?”
LED bulbs light-up all over the fuselage, a
titanium drawer slides to one side revealing “Bourbon, please. On the rocks.”
a set of steps. With a welcoming gesture,
he leads me on board the model X87 turbo “Two bourbon on the rocks X87.”
Immediately, two glasses with alcohol
“Wow! This is spectacular! We could ac- and ice rise out of the center console. The
tually travel to the moon in this baby?” salesman gives me one and I sip it, “Very
“Sure, buckle yourself into the seat by the
left window and we’ll start. It operates by “So, what do you think about this little
voice command to the control panel. Start doozey? The transporter engine is guaran-
X87 turbo.” teed for thirty million miles. The body is
made by Boeing and the hyper-link engine
I could hear the engine humming while a is made by Northrop. I’ve sold dozens of
cloud of dust breezes past the window. these to happy travel-oriented customers.
Have a large backyard? Land one of these
“Okay, you comfortable? Ready to take it next to the bar-b-que or jacuzzi!”
for a little spin?”
“Yeah! Sounds great.”
“Sure! Let’s go!”
“What would it take to get you into one
“Rise to fifty-thousand feet X87!” he of these little gems today?”
“How much does this model’s cost?”
The saucer rose like a fast elevator above
the sales lot; higher than the office build- “This clean new model starts at two mil-
ings; the space needle; higher than the lion, I mention a thirty-million-mile guar-
clouds. As I look out the window, I can see antee on the transporter will last years and
the ocean, forest and the city of Seattle. years. Just fly it to the service lot and we’ll
take care of everything and shine it up. Got
“Hang on to the handles on your seat, to have a good wax job – impress the neigh-
we’re heading to hyper-drive.” bors.”
“Yeah sure.” “Would you want financing or prefer a
Feeling the g-forces push me back into
my seat and looking through the window as “I would take advantage of financing. But
we continue, I see all of North America then is there a manual or something where I
the earth and beyond. We pass into vacant would learn to fly one of these?”
“We have a three DVD set that ex-
“We are reaching cruising speed. The plains everything you need to know so
g-forces will be less apparent and we’ll have you can travel in style. Also, included with
a smooth ride.”
Revista Literária Adelaide
the leasing is four flight lessons. You’ll be “How was it?”
cruising to Mars in no time!”
“Clean it up Johnny this one is a lease.”
“After the test flight we’ll get your info
and set you up in this baby!” Walking into the sales office, he con-
firmed the final paperwork.
“Hey, there’s the moon!” I said, looking
out the window. “Okay. Ready for your signature.”
“Yeah, we’ll just circle around it.” “Great! Got a pen?”
“Oh, there’s a base right there.” “It’s all done.” He said after signing. “Here
is your key card with access’ to voice com-
“Yes, take the wife out for a flight to the mand. We’re signing you up for our flight
lunar base. Experience the latest in comfort class’ and here is your three DVD set to un-
and speed. Spend the night in the Lunar derstand the advanced voice control system.
hotel. Then travel to Mars in the morning.” Classes start tomorrow well see you then.”
“That sounds fantastic!” “Great! I hope my wife likes it!”
“Put your seatbelt back on and hold onto “Perhaps she would like one of her own?”
that drink were headed back at hyper-speed.
‘Return to Seattle launch base X87!”’ “Yeah maybe. Thanks for all your help. I
can’t wait to see Saturn’s rings close up.”
“We will be back shortly. I can start on
the paperwork so when we get back, you’ll “As a token of our appreciation here is a
be ready to sign the lease.” gift certificate for a five-star weekend at the
lunar base. You and your wife will love it.
“We have your SSN. What about your See you tomorrow at three o’clock.”
“I’m am retiring. I own a chain of ac-
counting offices with fifteen CPA’s.” “Wait! Where ya headed too?”
“Good, a solid steady profession there “Oh, the Somerset Regency Hotel.”
won’t be any delay when we run the paper-
work.” “They have a saucer pad. Would you like
“Oh, there’s earth again.”
“Yes, we can travel extremely fast in this
turbo-charged number. You’ll love it.” Walking onto the lot, “This is my saucer
lets go in it.”
I could see the North American Conti-
nent and a few seconds later I see the city The salesman took out his key card to
of Seattle and the Space Needle. open the door. Walking up the steps, we sit
“There’s the sales lot!”
“Would you like to fly this time?”
Touch down is very smooth and the
seatbelts automatically unbuckle. The door “Excellent!”
opens and we walk the steps to a service
attendant waiting outside. “Just tell it where you want to go.”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“Somerset Regency Hotel X87” “Great.”
I felt the smooth start of the engine and I turned to walk away. But then I stumble
the rise of the saucer. though I quickly catch myself at the over-
“This craft will get us there quick.”
“You know I went to the moon today and
“It is so unbelievable what I’ve experi- here I nearly lost it all by tripping over my
enced today. I feel like I’m living five hun- own shoelace.”
dred years in the future.”
“You’re doing fine.”
“We’re touching down.”
“Okay! See you tomorrow.”
With door opening, I walk down the steps.
“Tell a friend.”
“Thank you and you will see me tomorrow.”
About the Author
Colin Gallagher has recently retired and has started writing one of his joys in life. He has
joined the California Writers Club and has been published twice.
by Taylor Martin
Pequena rustled in my arms, I tussled to “Excuse me, Manny?” Mrs. Kindley held
calm her down. The looks from my school- the ruler like a whip, pointing it straight at
mates spelled disgust, dirty gazes at her dirt Pequena. “But that creature will not be tol-
covered feathers. I ignored them all. In the erated in my-”
midst of all them lied a murderer. I knew it.
Pequena knew it. She let out a faint cluck, I slammed Pequena onto the teachers
her big eyes targeting a ginger kid with a desk, her claws scuffing up the old wood.
stack of books. I veered right to him, so My classmates all stared in shock. I ignored
close I could’ve counted his freckles. He them. Mrs. Kindley snapped her ruler to-
stared at Pequena. wards the door. “Office.”
“Um…” his plump body jiggled like Jell-O A muffled landline rang against principal
as we focused on his every move. “Hey Nimoy’s ear, practically pressed into the fat
there little… chicken…” of his cheek. Between rings, the three of us
sat in total silence, exchanging glances.
“Hello, Mrs. Manilla, this is Principal
The boy jumped as I snapped at him, Nimoy from school…” He turned to me,
freckles turning pale. blinking a couple of times through his big,
square glasses as if he were taking mental
“You address her as Pequena.” photographs. “Yes I have your son, uh,
Manny here with me… as well as a chicken.”
Pequena made no noise, but jerked
her head back towards me. I stepped back, “Pequena.” I quickly corrected him. “You
allowing the boy to continue down the address her as Pequena.”
hallway, which he did with haste. The bell
rang, marking the end of this round of in- Principal Nimoy slowly turned back to
vestigations. the call. “It’s name is... Pequena.” After
Principal Nimoy carefully explained the sit-
I ducked into class, scanning the room. uation, as not to get it mistaken, he hung up
My classmates were settling in their seats the phone. He tried to read me, scanning
when they noticed Pequena, giving her his eyes up and down from me to Pequena.
looks. Pequena spazzed every so often, but
never clucked. A smack of a ruler from the “Usually,” he leaned back, having given
front of the room interrupted the walk to up trying to figure me out for the moment,
my desk. “I can get a pretty good sense of a student’s
Adelaide Literary Magazine
behavior just by looking at them.” His eyes Pequena, now quivering, looked to me
squinted momentarily. “But I’m gonna need for what I can only assume was comfort.
an explanation for this one.” “The loss of your kin is not normal Prin-
cipal, and it never will be.” I tried to soothe
I sat silently, staring at Pequena as she Pequena, who had curled up as much as she
studied Principal Nimoy studying her. could. “I need to find out who.” We both
shifted our focus to Pequena. “For her sake.”
“For better understanding.”
A look of compassion crossed Principal
“Pequena laid an egg yesterday.” My Nimoy’s face. “Well then, let me be the first
head didn’t move, only my jaw. “She hadn’t to apologize to you both for your loss.”
laid one before.”
Pequena lifted her head up in a slightly
“Well, that’s… that’s normal. Chickens do twitchy manner.
“I do hope you find your culprit, but I
“This morning it was gone.” can’t let you investigate here.” There was
a soft knock at the door, Principal Nimoy
Pequena squirmed a little bit when I said lifted the large amount of himself from his
this. desk to let them in. Mother silently walked
in the door.
“I see… well… oh how do I put this…
what’d you have for breakfast?” “Sweetie, I know you’re upset, but Pequena
needs to come home.”
“Eggs.” My eyes remained laser focused
on his. “We have a chicken farm, why Principal Nimoy gave me a gentle nod. I
wouldn’t we eat eggs?” stood from my chair and presented Pequena
to her. She was snug in my arms, still as a
Principal Nimoy looked upon my stone statue, until the moment her twitching eyes
cold stature and listened to my straight for- landed on Mother’s. She flapped and flailed
ward response as if I were speaking in an- her wings, attempting an escape. I pulled
other language. “And you don’t think little… her away from Mother, wrestling to keep
Pequena’s egg got mixed up with the rest her calm. When Mother reached to help,
of them?” Pequena let out an ear piercing crow.
“The chicken farm belongs to my family,
but Pequena is mine. Noone in the house
had the right to that egg.”
About the Author
Taylor Martin grew up smack in the middle of Baltimore and DC. In
his free time Taylor writes stories, both for paper and for film, and
unwinds by playing video games and going on long drives. You can
follow him on Twitter: @t_mart_17.
by Alexandre Henrique Ferreira
Campos de Souza
The cold wind howls through the city, the and face; a cut in the head, the blood still
snow slowly falling and gathering on the dripping, impairing the vision of the right
roofs of houses. A normal Christmas Eve, eye. He grits his teeth in anger and thinks
families gathering, and presents being giv- worriedly about how his children are.
en and received. And that was how Gabri-
elle, and her family’s night went until the “Are you ok, mommy? Let’s get out of
nightmare began. Now she is running des- here and find daddy and Michael,” she says,
perately down the hall on the first floor of trying to sound as gentle as possible.
her house trying to meet her family while
portraits fly over her head. Her heart beat- “Stay away from me!” her mother yells.
ing at the same pace as the portraits hit the
walls, a devilish symphony on Christmas Eve. “It’s me, mommy. Please, calm down,”
she answers, even more gentle.
“Oh God! Why did he have to buy that
damn necklace?!” she yells. “I told him it “Behind you!”
was cursed. I felt the spirit presence in it.”
As Gabrielle turns, she sees a raid of
Gabrielle is a 12 years old girl that, be- flying objects of all kinds coming in their
sides no one believe her, is a medium ca- direction. She freezes, not capable to react.
pable to see and talk with spirits. Her mother grabs her and her body in front
of Gabrielle’s. Then suddenly her father,
Finally, she reaches the Master Room Frank, and her brother, Michael, break the
and finds her mother, Megan, sitting in the door and storm into the room, hitting the
corner embracing her legs, and facing the flying objects with their baseball bats.
door, her eyes glazed with fear. As he gets
closer, he notices the marks of the night on “Stop it!” Gabrielle suddenly screams,
her body: various bruises on her arms, legs and then all objects falls down, giving them
time to take a breath. They stare each other,
trying to find a way out of this situation.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“I have a plan, but you won’t like,” Ga- “I’m okay, daddy. I can do this,” Gabrielle
briele finally says. says, standing up again. Her father still not
accepting this, trying to free himself from
*** Michael. She looks to her mother that, with
a sad smile, nods her head.
They are standing before the dining room;
the smell of turkey still impregnates the air “I trust you, honey,” she says, “even hurting
mixing with the smell of wine coming from me so much.”
a broken bottle laying next to the table.
And the table is the only thing that still un- Gabrielle takes a deep breath, nods and
touched in the house, with plates, glasses, turn back to the spirit that is now visible to
forks and knives staying right where they’re her.
supposed to be; an island of peace among
a sea of chaos and destruction destroyed “I won’t give up. I will help you and save
furniture and all kind of objects all over the my family. Tell me why you’re doing this,”
place, as if a tornado had passed leaving she says looking directly to the spirit. The
only the walls and ceiling in place . rain of objects got heavy again.
“I’m going,” Gabrielle finally says, staring “I understand you’re angry. You were a
with conviction to dining room. little girl just like me, but your father did
horrible things to you in the middle of
As she gets closer, the air gets heavier Christmas Eve. He broke you in every aspect
and moving becomes more difficult like she possible, and then threw your body in the
was walking against a strong wind. The ob- river. And your soul got trapped inside the
jects on the table starts to tremble and she necklace you were wearing,” Gabrielle says.
feels the spirit’s angry intention.
“But this is not an excuse to hurt other
“I know you can hear me. Please, I just people, innocent people. They’re not at
want to talk with you, help you.” She says to fault.” She continues. The spirit seems to
the spirit, that still not visible to her. “I know calm down a little.
you’ve been suffering for a long time, and I
know you want to be free. But you won’t “Is there anything we could do for you?
be able to do so if you don’t let us help you.” Anything you wish?” she asks gently.
However, the spirit got angrier and “We can do this,” she suddenly says, then
started throwing objects in her direction. turns to her family and affirms “We will
And so, a knife hits her thigh, sticking there have a Christmas dinner with her, the one
firmly; she groans in pain, falling on her she couldn’t enjoy in life. This will free her
knee, tears falling over her face. soul.”
“Gabrielle!! I will destroy you, spirit!! No At this moment, nothing shocks them
one hurts my little girl!!” Frank screams, anymore and they accept without ques-
going to where her daughter is. But Michael tioning.
stops him, holding him and taking him to
the ground. ***
“Stop it, dad! We need to trust her! She’s A normal Christmas dinner except for the
the only one who can do this!” he says. one empty chair where supposedly the
spirit girl was sitting. Everyone except Ga-
Revista Literária Adelaide
brielle was nervous about having a dinner elle transcended to the other side, finally
with a spirit that almost killed them and achieving the peace she longed for.
destroyed their house, but they tried to act
as normal as possible to not upset the spirit “You know, little girl,” Frank says with a
again. After a while, the spirit got satisfied, tired smile, “you were right from the very
and after thanking them through Gabri- beginning. Next time, I will throw the gift as
far as I can before opening it.”
About the Author
Alexandre Souza was born and grown up in Recife, Brazil, and on his free time he watches
animations and reads books. He loves dark and supernatural stories. Follow him on Twitter
by Nathaniel Zebley
Rachel stood up, walked over to the “Sometimes I just wish that I listened
smudged window in the small room, and to my parents and never stayed with you,”
looked out at the parking lot with only a few Rachel said, choking back tears. “Now I’m
cars in it. The “No Vacancy” sign was blink- far away from home and the only thing I
ing rapidly, and the neon “Motel” sign had have to show for it is this shitty motel room
the ‘M’ burned out. and a boyfriend who spends our little bit of
money on booze.”
“It’s easy for you to say, you’re not the
one that has to think about this day in, and “Well that was one decision that didn’t
day out. You’ll never understand how hard take you long to make,” Thomas said, slur-
this is,” she said. ring his words.
Thomas walked over to the nightstand Rachel sat down on the storage trunk
and picked up a bottle of the amber liquid. and put hand on her stomach, ignoring
He finished off his glass before opening the Thomas’ question.
large bottle and taking a swig from it.
He finished off the rest of the bottle and
“Can we at least talk about this tomorrow was now slumped in the chair, fading in and
when you’re not like this?” Rachel said. out of consciousness.
“I’m fine.” “I’m tired of dealing with a child,” he said,
before drifting into an unconscious state.
Thomas took the bottle over to a loose
chair in the corner of the room and sat Rachel looked back at Thomas who was
down, taking another drink. now passed out with an empty bottle of
Jack Daniels slipping out of his limp hand.
“I’m over this,” Thomas said, in-between She put her hand on her stomach and
hiccups. walked over to her dresser. She packed
what little of the belongings that she had
“Well that’s not surprising, whenever in her suitcase, and all of the cash that she
anything gets too hard or doesn’t go your could scavenge. Rachel opened the door,
way, you just give up.” before stopping halfway out.
“I don’t give up, I’m just letting you make “I’m going to keep it,” she said, as she
the decision without me. closed the door to the motel room.
Thomas took another swig from the bottle.
Revista Literária Adelaide
About the Author
Nathaniel Zebley loved movies and any storytelling media containing horror. You can follow
him on Twitter: @n_zebley.”
A GROCER’S LIST
by Charlie Turner
Three dozen eggs. Ollie stands in the mid- audible equivalent of a snake bite. It’s the
dle of the mess with a cigarette behind his noise the slicer makes when liquid hits the
ear. Our father, the deli manager, is across blade, and this liquid is dark red.
the store flirting with some young woman
with dirty blonde hair. A regular customer. Nine stitches. Ollie drives us home from
I guess they didn’t hear the crash. “Move the ER, and I sit in the back and watch the
fast,” I tell Ollie. He grabs an old floor mop elms fly by. We had to close the deli early,
and begins pushing the goop into a dust- and I think my father is more upset about
pan. It sticks to the tiled floor, so he uses that than he is about the tip of his thumb
his boot to kick it, then he picks it up by the no longer being attached to his hand. For
handful. He makes five, maybe six trips to a moment, our eyes meet in the rearview.
the waste bin behind the counter while I He stares at me, not blinking, not crying,
watch. When he steps in front of me, I snag not anything. He doesn’t have to speak be-
the coffin nail. “You’ll be here awhile. I’ll cause his anger is strong enough to turn
smoke this for you.” the August air cold. He’s angry at me for
not caring about the business, angry at
Six pounds of honey ham. The package is Ollie for dropping a total of forty-eight eggs
from Peppy Pigs Farms, and our customers on the ground over the past week, angry at
prefer it over every other meat that we sell. himself for believing that one day his sons
My father slices it thinly. He orders me to would take over the deli. When his hands
carve into the giant cylinder of provolone become too arthritic to run the machines,
that has just arrived. In my arms, it weighs as to cut the meat, he wants us to eagerly
much as a newborn, maybe more. I cradle it welcome the business into our lives and
to the slicing station. The man who ordered allow it to live on for another twenty, thirty,
the cheese is wearing a denim jacket and or forty years. “That’s a dream,” Ollie once
has a belly that droops over a bull horn belt told him. “You know we don’t want this
buckle. He asks if he can try a piece, and I place.” But the old man keeps trying. To-
say no. My father looks at me, his jaw tight, night, instead of taking the easy way out
his eyes wide. The muscles in his cheeks and firing us, he’ll sit us down and say the
puff in and out, in and out. And during this same thing that he always has. “Some-
moment of distraction, I hear his machine thing’s gotta change, boys. I don’t know
begin to grind. It’s shrill, brain-rattling. The what, but something.”
About the Author Revista Literária Adelaide
Charlie Turner is an MFA candidate studying fiction at
Emerson College in Boston. In 2017, he won Best in
Competition during the Michael S. Roif Awards at UMass
Amherst for his original screenplay, Paper Faces. Besides
fiction, Charlie has had several film reviews published
and is the owner of CharliesCut.com, an entertainment
by Noelle Florio
“It comes in waves, Miss. Loakey. Some days often her condition turned into a looming
will be better than others sweetie, but the huff just upon getting out of bed.
results of your spirometry test show your
lungs have increased inflammation since “Well, Doc, you know how much it means
your last visit,” Doc said in a huff with a to me.” A deep breath. “You really thought
look of desperation on his face while Lana I’d listen to your orders?” Lana said, chuck-
sat in the bubblegum recliner, her skeletal ling a little. “When do I ever do that?”
hand held over her chest. Doc reached into
the worn out file cabinet to retrieve a tight- “You should do it more often to be honest
ly packed envelope labeled, “Loakey, Lana.” with you.” A pause. Lana was weary of what
He shuffled through the stack of papers Doc would say next, for he didn’t tag a pet
then pulled out the desired collection he name on the end of his sentence. When he
was searching for. did this she knew he was actually trying to
“Looking back on your test from last July,
your inflammation was at an all-time high “You’re pushing it Lana. While I know
as well,” Doc said, the papers shielding his you want to pretend you are in your mid-
doughy blue eyes and cleanly shaven face. 50’s, sooner or late you need to accept the
A pause. More thumbing through papers. fact that you are pushing your late 80’s.” A
“You’re not taking up that peach business pause and a wheeze from Lana. “90 to be
again, right dear?” exact,” Doc said as he put Lana’s stack of
files back into the cabinet. Lana’s breathe
“You mean the “Blue Ridge Ripest Peach” was at a constant wheeze.
contest? Lana asked.
“Dear, you know I hate saying this, but I
“I’ll take that as a yes, dear.” Doc’s eyes cannot guarantee that your lungs are strong
popped up from the top of the pages and enough to take on this contest,” Doc said.
locked with Lana’s rolling ones. While she “It’s a risk I don’t want you to take.”
was quite sick of Doc’s ‘dears’ and ‘sweeties,’
he’s been her pulmonologist ever since she “Got it, Doc.” Lana couldn’t face listening
was diagnosed with asthma and heart pal- to those orders.
pitations twenty years ago. She couldn’t
change now. Back then, it was just an oc- The sunsets always looked like the
casional huff at the top of the stairs more painting palette of an artist’s in the moun-
tainside of Blue Ridge, Georgia; much like
it was when she arrived at her house that
Revista Literária Adelaide
evening. Pulling her wiry blonde hair back was simply not fertile enough to grow such
into a thin pony tail, Lana knelt down with a tree.
one knee at a time and a deep breath to
look at her tree. While she gripped for Lana always had to drive past the was
balance on the damp earth she gazed up the Maywells and the Forrests’ plantations
at the cotton candy swirls of the sky until before she got to her own. Even though the
she gained a steady pace. Deep breathes. Forrests’ moved out once their kids grew up
In and out, she thought. After a minute or and began lives of their own, Lana still re-
two, Lana eventually got close enough to garded the plantation as theirs. Maya May-
view the progress of her peaches only to well was still there though, and because it
find them browned and rotting. was summertime, her grandkids were vis-
iting. Lana knew this because as she pulled
“Damnit.” Reaching for the hose, she over to look at her peach tree, bikes with
thought she could salvage whatever bit of trainers on them and beat up hoola hoops
life was left within it. Every year that Lana were strewn all over the front lawn. She
entered the annual “Blue Ridge Ripest shut off her husband’s Chevy Malibu that
Peach” contest she failed terribly. Her she just couldn’t seem to part with and felt
peaches were either of the brown, mushy the cool breeze refresh her face that al-
texture as they were now or they were ready began to sweat in the Georgia heat.
bitter, leaving her with nothing but a sigh The wind whistled through the small trees
and a dim hope for the next year. The con- that swayed before her as the sweet scent
test had a special place in her heart though, of peaches filled her with a melancholy hap-
for she has been trying to grow a successful piness. One foot out of the car and a deep
peach tree since she was a little girl. breath with the other one, Lana was on
her feet, staring at Maya’s vegetation. She
“But why, Ma? How come the Mayfields leaned over on the side of the road and just
and the Forrests always have these full, or- stared at the mixture of ruby red and or-
ange peaches and I got nothing but shriv- ange that seemed so impossible for her to
eled and moldy balls of mush?” twelve obtain. As she turned the peach in her deli-
year-old Lana asked her mom as she sat cate hands, feeling its soft and fuzzy texture,
with the hose snaked between her chalky she was taken back to the days of her child-
legs. She sat next to her tree, day after day, hood. The days when she would run down
as the sweat from the Georgia sun dripped the very road that she staggered on now.
down her face and stung her eyes.
“They have more than enough to go
“I’m sure your peaches will grow, honey. around, just don’t let anyone see you when
You just got to give it some time,” Lana’s you do it, okay?” Lana’s mother would say
mother would tell her. More than fifty years as she instructed her to go down to the
later and Lana was still giving it some time. Maywells’ late on a Saturday night to steal
She asked herself what had she done wrong peaches for breakfast on Sunday mornings.
all these years that prevented her from Lana would always hesitate for she despised
growing the fruit that her state loved and taking something that was not hers, but al-
cherished so much? Perhaps it was the way ways end up on giving in for the Maywells
she took care of the tree. Did she water it had the best peaches in town. Even better
too much? Too much sunlight? Or maybe it than the supermarket. The adrenaline
was the geographic makeup of the land; it
Adelaide Literary Magazine
would be pumping through her system, full finger the size of those baby carrots you
well knowing that she could get caught at buy in the supermarket, pointed toward a
any second. Little puffs of dirt would follow woman awkwardly jogging down the dirt
in her tracks as each foot tapped off the road. She held her white sunhat against the
ground, one step closer to the forbidden wind and tried to hold onto her dress be-
fruit. She’d kneel down on the side of the fore it got caught in the breeze, too.
road, stuff two or three peaches in her shirt
and take off in the night. She never took “Lana!” She heard Maya scream as her arm
more than three peaches for only her and arched over her head to wave at Lana. Lana
her mother lived on the plantation and Lana hasn’t seen her in over six months for her
hated wasting food. In all the years that she heart palpitations restricted her to only the
stole peaches, her classmate Maya never food market and the doctor. Lana was sur-
found out. Even if she did, she never con- prised when she noticed the definite creases
fronted Lana about it. Deep down, Lana al- in the outer corners of Maya’s eyes and fore-
ways thought Maya secretly felt bad for her head as she reached in to give her childhood
because in all the years they joined the con- best friend a hug. Despite the wrinkles, Maya
test together, Maya was always one of the had that same infectious beauty that had all
top three contestants. Meanwhile, Lana was the boys in school melting over her.
given a sticker that read, “I love peaches!”
“What are you doing down here? I feel
It was the sound of sneakers scuffing like I haven’t seen you in ages! How you
against the ground that took Lana’s head been?” Although Lana has known Maya
out of the clouds as she turned around to since Kindergarten, one thing she never
see Maya’s grandkids quickly approaching got used to was the rambling questions she
her. They shot her a look that read, ‘what would spew out at lightning speed.
are your doing next to our peach trees?’ She
stood up slowly and watched the kids’ legs “I’m still hanging in there, you know,”
run at speeds she wished she could reach. Lana answered as she counted in her head
to hold onto the pace of her breath. One-
“We’re going to win first place this year!” two-three, deep breath in. One-two-three,
one of the boys said as he darted up to deep breath out.
Lana then past her, leaving a trail of dirt to
dissipate in the air. The other one, much “How’s the good old heart? Still pumping?”
shorter and younger, trailed behind as his she asked. In mid conversation, Maya shot
short and stubby legs tried to catch up her head over to the older brother, “Hey!
to his more agile brother. He had to have Johnny, you put that rock down and stop
been around seven or eight years old as he pushing your brother!” Her head turned
stopped in front of Lana to catch his breath. back to Lana. “I know you were having some
For a second both of them stood there, heart trouble. I’ve been meaning to stop by
looked and one another and took deep but you know how it is with kids, ha!” she
gasps before saying a word. Lana smiled as said. Right away, Maya must have seen the
she watched him push the sweaty clumps of look on Lana’s face for she quickly followed
chocolate brown hair from his eyes. up with, “Oh! I’m so sorry, I forgot.” She was
visibly nervous for she began to twirl the
“Is your grandma around at all?” she ends of her hair. Lana’s breath started to
asked. The boy turned around and with a lose its steady pace again.
Revista Literária Adelaide
“Don’t worry about it.” A pause. “I should down on the front lawn and stared at the
get going anyway,” Lana said as started to yellowing leaves that piled at the base of
turn toward her car. her peach tree. She reached for the hose to
wash away the dead leaves and then pro-
“You’re still entering the contest this year, ceeded to water the root of the tree that
right?” Maya asked. was still damp from when she watered it
earlier this morning. Letting out a sigh, she
“Um, I don’t know if I have enough time brushed the dirt off her pants and slowly
for it this year,” Lana turned around and headed for the house.
answered. Although she tried to play it off
as if she was too busy to grow the peaches, Surrounded by cascading hills, Lana’s
she didn’t want to admit how horrible they washed-out yellow house with cream col-
were turning out. ored shutters sat far back from the road
which allowed for much privacy. Over the
“Well, there’s still two weeks until the years, she painted it a variety of different
contest. You need any help? I can send one colors from blood red to plum purple. She
of the boys over to make sure you’re doing always came back to yellow though, for she
everything right. I gotta teach ‘em young, thought it would attract more light into her
you know? They have to carry on the tra- house. She stood on the soggy lawn for a
dition. Right boys?!” Maya turned around moment before entering and looked at each
to the boys, who were now wrestling in the desolate window that faced in her direction.
grass. “Hey! Stop that!” She imagined a home full of children. A set
of twins playing cards in the top left window.
“No,” Lana said without hesitation. Re- A teenager brushing out her younger sister’s
alizing that her tone gave off an irritable hair in the right. She glanced down towards
impression, “I’m fine, really,” she followed the dining room on the first floor and imag-
with a smile. “My peaches are turning ined a family gathered around the great big
out quite good, actually.” She turned back mahogany table that she and Robert bought
around to face her car, put the key in the at an auction right after their marriage.
door and unlocked it.
“If we’re going to have a family of our own
“But, I thought you didn’t have time–” one day then we need a place of meeting.
Maya asked but the sound of Lana’s car A place where we can all be together to
door overpowered her question. talk about our day; to ask how each other
is doing,” she said to him right before she
Lana cranked the window down and placed the highest bid on the table. Robert
leaned her head out the window before gave her a hesitating glance, seeing that the
pulling away. table was five hundred dollars over their
“Tell the kids I said goodbye,” she said.
Lana drove off into the sunset as the two “Can’t you just picture it, Robert? All of
boys chased each other into Maya’s home the kids around the table, passing around
with handfuls of leaves they found in the the mashed potatoes? Then coming back for
yard. a slice of that peach pie that your mother al-
ways used to make?” she said, with a great
By the time Lana made it back to her big smile on her face. Reaching into her
house, the sun was laying over the horizon,
casting magenta hues onto the colonial
styled windows of her house. She knelt
Adelaide Literary Magazine
back pocket, Lana pulled out a damp tissue “Sometimes people’s soil is more fer-
and wiped off the corners of her eyes with it. tile than others’, that’s all,” Mary followed,
sliding Lana’s dinner plate in front of her.
“Come on in Lana, it’s time to eat!” a
voice yelled, directing her focus from the “But why?” Lana asked. She tapped her
dining room window to the front door fork against the ceramic plate, poking at bits
where her nurse, Mary, waved a hand at of chicken. She placed the fork down then
her. Mary was a middle aged woman with slid the plate back toward Mary.
a heavy-set build who came in to look after
Lana for a few hours each day. When Mary “That’s just how God made the land, my
first started coming around, she would stay dear! There’s nothing you or me can do
for hours at a time. They would drink tea about it. Now finish that chicken for me.”
together and talk about all sorts of things Mary said.
from Lana’s senior prom with Robert to
Mary’s favorite books of the month. But “How is the little one?” Lana asked after
ever since she became a grandmother two a short silence at the table. She knew ex-
months ago, Mary would leave right after actly how to work Mary for if she asked
cooking Lana’s dinner to spend time with her about her kids, Mary would forget all
her own family. “I have to run now Lana; the responsibilities and talk about them until
baby is waiting for me!” she would always she was forced to stop. She sat down at the
say. little table for two, put a heap of chicken
and corn on her plate and then went off on
“Feeling okay today? Dinner’s all ready for a tangent.
you. How’s the peach tree doing? Good? I
know that contest is coming up soon. You “Oh, they’re just wonderful! You know
have to submit the peach in a couple days how kids are during the ‘terrible twos.’ Tom-
right?” Mary said with a whirlwind of energy. my’s just a bundle of energy. Every time he
comes over I make sure to have all his toys
“Two weeks. The deadlines’ in two set up for him you know,” Mary said. Lana
weeks,” Lana said, still trying to process the nodded. She regretted asking her about
babbling thoughts that Mary spewed out in Tommy for although it diverged Mary, it
one breath. forced Lana to wonder what her children
would be like if she had one of her own.
“Well how do the peaches look? Any
good ones?” Mary asked as she placed a “Once he gets tired of being inside all day
spoonful of corn onto her plate. he usually watches me out in the garden…”
Mary babbled on. “But anyways, how can
“Bruised. Browned. Yellow leaves gath- I help you with your peach tree? The sun
ering around the root.” She took a breath hasn’t gone completely down yet. Why
between each sentence. don’t we go out there to see what we can
“It’s not your fault that the soil isn’t fer-
tile. It’s just the way it is. Are the Maywells “No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
having the same problem?” Mary placed a Lana said “I’d rather just go lay down.”
few pieces of fried chicken on Lana’s plate.
Mary rose from her seat and made her
“I’m not very hungry,” Lana said, ignoring way over to Lana. She put her arm on her
further acknowledgement of the peach tree. shoulder to guide her up from the table.