"She couldn't handle the suspense," she mused, longing for cigarette smoke to mingle with the steam. Quivering fingers raised the porcelain to her lips, doing her best to hide the shortness of her breath, the hint of saline around her eyes. "So goddamn impatient."
      Each sip was a silent threnody, lost in the din.

      "This was hers," he said to no one but ghosts, starched collar long undone and revealing blond stubble. Bloodshot eyes screamed out for slumber, but he could only stare at the splash of red silk across his palm, fingers aching to hold it tighter, to feel the skin it once touched. "This was hers..."
      He fell to the floor. Only his knees kept his chest from heaving itself apart.

      He hadn't spoken in days. E-mails fell by the wayside, clients angry and confused ringing a phone no longer in service, as he hid behind drawn blinds and a faulty light switch. Somewhere, a stack of photographs remained hidden, an unfinished project silenced by folderol and a locked closet door, marked by words he could never say.
      Behind his closed eyes were a pair he could never capture, no matter the lens.

      I'm sorry, the note had said, each letter etched in shaky breath. Tear stains marked where her life had leaked onto the page, amid caresses rendered sorrowfully in pen strokes.
      Somewhere, someone secretly wondered if she was.



This was originally posted on Sunday, but has been back-posted to the proper date. My apologies. -- Ed.

      Sometimes, life has this funny way of surprising you, like a glance out the window to see a bunny on your doorstep, still but for the twitching of whiskers. And though you know that sooner or later, you'll need to leave the house, or you'll maybe drop something and scare the little creature away, or maybe you'll just turn away and the little one will be gone, there's still that precious moment of peace, just sitting still and watching the bunny's own stillness. Almost like a breath could be too much sound. It's serene, in its own way.
      Or maybe you're not surprised at all sometimes, especially looking back, but it feels just as good. You were just leaving milk out at first, until you went out and got some kibble and cat treats, toying with the idea of maybe getting a litter box or maybe taking a trip to the vet. You carefully maneuvered each small step along the way, but not for a second did it make your smile any less bright when the little stray first set foot inside your door, nuzzling your leg as he cautiously walked by.
      You were ready, but you never stopped to think about it, and so you were still surprised, too, in a way, when it all came together. Maybe that's just how life is: we can never truly make the most out of a surprise unless we're in, some way, ready for a surprise.
      Heh, I know. I like paradoxes too much. But you still enjoy it when I find them.
      Anyway. These are the thoughts in my head as the rain taps gently on our tent, and you sleep smiling in my arms, and the gray twilight kisses you all the ways I wish I could, but I don't want to wake you, looking so peaceful, so serene in your own way.
      Maybe you'll feel this gentle squeeze just the same.


she would have smiled just for him.

      he sighs, looking across the bar and seeing another girl, fine black hair tightly pulled into a bun, laughing and smiling with her unremarkable friends. he chuckles, bringing the tumbler to his lips, thinking that he wouldn't be so out of place by her side, the closely-trimmed gold beard the only thing making him stand-out from al the other bodies in jackets and polished shoes.
      she bobs her head with a laugh, bright red lips painted to match her stylish coat, and tangles herself in his heartstrings. he knocks another one back, trying to forget her before the first "hello," imagined conversations coming to a standstill after an awkward pause. distracted by a falling glass, he stares at the melting ice in his own, and idly wonders, however briefly, if there will be a band tonight.
      Do you like these guys? he would ask.
      Have you seen them before? he would stumble, turning red to learn they'd only just gotten together, a first show for a first flirtation.
      Hey, and he would stumble. the word always gave him problems. maybe because it was always the one thing he could probably get away with saying before the pressures of conversation would fall heavy upon his shoulders.
      he takes a drink, just in time to see a group of guys, tattooed and unshaven pushing around chairs, making room for a bass drum and snare. and just like last week, he sits on the wobbly stool, while she joins the crowd beginning to form, mingling with the other faceless bodies, one last smile lingering in his eyes like a honeyed aftertaste.
      Do you like these guys?
      So what do you usually listen to? Really? That's cool, so do I...

      another drink passes his silent lips. third one of the night. and his fourth drink, too.


"Disgruntled Area Man Assaults Mannequin with Typewriter"

      the smoke slithered around the broken pull chain, convulsing in the flickering glow of the bulb's last breaths. at some point, it'd need to go, just like the half-eaten carton of general tso's and someone who occupied a little too much space on the bed. probably the beard, too, or what could pass for one with squinted eyes and a poor grasp of english.
      the typewriter was meant to be a joke. "oh, you're a writer," they'd said, "we found this at the sally army down the block." why they didn't use it to bludgeon some trust fund kid, get some proper use out of it, remained a mystery. he missed the days of whiskey-fueled gifts of even more whiskey, some cigs and well-earned solitude.
      granted, most of those were to himself.
      but there it was, contemplating suicide by hanging-off of the sawed-off bookcase, its busted platen that wouldn't stay in place for eleven goddamn seconds (he counted) a single extended finger suspended in the air. he looked at the next shelf up, leaving the machine to contemplate its own self-worth. rings of what might once have been optimistically called "coffee" stained what paper was around, buried beneath a crumpled-up shirt and something that could've been edible once.
      the bulb flashed above, making the sound that rabbits do, the strain of it all too much for it to take.
      a hand sauntered over tangles of greasy hair, as the grunting choke of a sigh stumbled into the air, smacking slack lips on its way out the door. hoisting the chunk of metal onto a bare lap, he clumsy staggered through the motions, hungover fingers, not eagerly anticipating all the head-pounding to come, spooling the driest piece of paper with all the gravitas of a man about to face the firing squad.
      something stirred behind him. it occurred to him that it might not have been human, given the farms nearby.
      good line, he thought, popping into existence unbidden by any sort of muse worth looking at for too long, or in too bright of a light.
      too bad it still needed a new ribbon.