In These Days
In planning to write the novel, I began to think back to the most painful memories I could re-imagine and, hopefully, conjure new ones. It was quite simple since at least four or five times everyday, I would chance upon some horrible event not yet passed and imbue it, experience its facets and reverberations—and then someone texted. Goddamn it, I thought I’d turned that off. My wife’s cousin had delivered the flan they baked for us—we didn’t ask for it, they thought it would cheer us up—and put it on the flaking cast-iron bench in the front yard, because they didn’t want to disturb us (or talk to us). Did we get it? But before I finished reading that message there was one more—two more replies. The flan story changed second by second, though I still sat half-imagining how I would cope with a mass shooting, how I would announce to no one, My life is now over…but then the flan story shifted again. The flan wasn’t where it was supposed to be. A package-thief, the guy photo-grabbed next to a bank and now on the neighborhood watch list—he looked like a minor league baseball manager: crusty, feral, mustached, and wearing sunglasses more as cover than for shade—had taken it, according to another neighbor’s door-cam. This thief used a sleek silver children’s scooter to elude authorities—and had apparently gone downhill, towards his warehouse hideout where he would unpackaged his thefts and order them to sell across the river in the Calhoun District. But newer texts were inconclusive. Another door-cam had him eating some of the flan and spitting it out—I thought this might be information enlightening for the maker of the flan, at least he would have a “real time” reaction to his handiwork, one he often sought. I began to compose that text, but a few others came in. The flan had been thrown in someone’s garbage bin, but the flan would still be sitting in a baking container that my wife’s cousin would really want back. Given I was the only one home, could I walk to 787 and please pick it out of the garbage—the residence owner, Mel, had left the container where he found it, in an uncovered bin outside of his house—and when I took out the container, could I put the lid back on the bin and wedge it in with the others on the side of his house? I didn’t know Mel, but I agreed. The flan thing wasn’t in any opened or unopened bin and I rang the bottom floor apartment, hoping it was Mel’s. Mel answered to his name and I asked after the flan container while more texts came in—angrily, if I could tell by the pinpricking buzz on my thigh, one being: The thief didn't like my fucking flan! Mel wasn’t forthcoming with the remaining flan or the container. He’d wanted to speak to me for a while and this was the perfect opportunity. Somewhere, somebody close to me was dying, but there I stood before Mel and his need to have me vote for the correct candidate. I think I had walked a few miles away from him when I began to also walk in the street, unconcerned about getting hit. The novel might have been better for it.
by Adina Polatsek
... The rain checks of May give way / to harsher things ...
by Ántonia Timothy
... I take a piece of the devil / (not in the Roman sense), / and pop it in my mouth ...