She thinks this is the place she dreamed of, but those may be the wrong mountains. A dictator hangs from the bridge across the River Honey, so named because it accumulates deep yellow soil as it meanders through the valley. The color of autumn, the river is to remind her of the calendar thinning. The river is hers, and the dead dictator, and the rich valley that narrows between the mountains' jagged walls. She cannot be certain about the mountains and turns her painted pony toward the steep trail, willing to risk it all at the top of her new home.
All night they stood in the pasture, lined up as though preparing for a battle charge. First light, they began falling, one by one, not in sequence, but in proximity, sometimes onto the body beside it. The line of cows withered. So many died they all couldn't be buried before the gas inside their stomachs turned the bodies onto their backs. Legs reached toward the sky. No one knew why the cows began dying. Tests failed to explain the deaths or odd death behavior. Those of us on burial duty worked around the clock until all the remains were gone.
Hole In The Sun
He read that a hole is growing in the sun and tries to not think of rivers. When he closes his eyes in hopes of sleep it is mere seconds before rivers flow. He watches the tiny eddies lap the small stones. It is never a rapid river and for this he is grateful, but now he knows the sun's plight and it is his duty to think of its wide wound. He promises himself he will ignore the slow, dark water when he closes his eyes, that he will dream instead of a fire making heaven with a drum.
It was while washing his face in the white tin basin, standing on the horizon of his exhaustion, that He saw He2. Taller, stronger, and much better rested, He2 gave He a long look, then smirked. Is this what you've become, He2 asked? You should have followed my suit. He started to protest. He was not offered the same opportunities. He was first, here to make the way. He2 showed He his palm. It's too late to argue, He2 said. Go rest your sagging bones. He turned his back to the white tin basin. He2 never spoke to He again.
He built a cabin across the river too small to house more bodies than one. After treks to the ship to bring up supplies, he closed the door and turned to the arms of nights as black and long as his blade was bright and quick. He thought of night, sitting in the dark, and longed to see it unadorned, saw instead a quarry filled with emeralds and rubies. The wife he will never marry is there with the children he will never hold. If only the dark was left an empty space, but nothing, he knew, is left unfilled.
I am the cheapest psychiatrist in Brentwood and am seldom invited to the best parties. I am aware it is tough to be cheap when everyone is rich. Sometimes I want to yell into their faces as they sneak in the backdoor as the chauffeur slips away. Their cheapness, when they have more money than they will ever need, is symptomatic of why they never listen to me. Why they come to their appointments and ramble on about their lives and ignore everything I say. How can I help that every word I say begs them to please go away?
I Never Knew
“Tilt back your nose,” my uncle said. Blood ran in two streams across my upper lip and down the sides of my mouth. “You're always staring at the ground. That's probably why the punk popped you.” His lips were squeezed shut. He had been in two wars and one prison. When he died his friend Alejandro knelt by the casket. His tears fell to the floor. My mother stared at him. Her lips pressed so tightly together they made a single line. Then she looked at me and said, “It's good he's dead. His life made up too much.”