It was snowing out that night. The wind whipped through the crisp air, stirring the car. He drove at speeds over seventy miles per hour. He didn't care. He had been crying. He was working on his book again for the first time in months. The one about her. He kept erasing lines and starting over, never understanding why he chose to suffer. Why he bothered to put it down on paper, why he bothered to let it swallow him up so fully. He had been drinking, thinking about her, opening his work despite his foggy head. Furrowing his brow, scrunching his lips. His thoughts full of murk, mud…the lines blurring like the smallest line on an eye chart. He had finished two and a half bottles of wine by the time he left the book, open on the table, and took a drive. He switched from red to white after bottle two. Then, he got in his car. Thought it’d be nice to be out in the snow. To watch the billowy flakes bounce off the windshield, sprinkled through the air like fierce fairy dust. To see any image other than the one of her body nearly riven in half. The blood and gore when he found her. When he saw the scythe lying next to her motionless corpse. The way she did it so deliberately, so viciously, so cold-hearted. He couldn't bear to think about it, let alone write it. So, he stopped. He knew he shouldn't have been driving, but it didn't matter. Snow was coming down in violent thrashes of white. The three dimensional, full moon should have been dazzling in the sky and illuminating the city, but it was barely visible through the thick layers of powder and dark night. He couldn't see anything anymore. Just snow, failure, tears, and affliction. It didn't stop him from driving. He was afraid that if he stopped, he would really have to face himself. Face the memories. Nothing to preoccupy him when he was still. Why didn't she want to live? Not even for him. The car spiraled off the icy road. Sent into the atmosphere, swirls of white dust were all that existed. Then, it hit a tree, tangling its metal body around the trunk, skidding underneath piles of cold, hard sop. He didn't move. His heartbeat fizzled into the Earth. Blood and snow. Red and white. Silent road. Not a single sound. Not of owl or chirping crickets or coyotes beyond.
Shay Siegel is from Long Island, New York. She received a B.A. in English from Tulane University in New Orleans where she was a member of the Women’s Tennis Team. She completed an MFA in Fiction at Sarah Lawrence College. Her writing has appeared in Pamplemousse, The Opiate, The Writing Disorder, Belleville Park Pages, Black Heart Magazine and others. Her website is www.shaysiegel.com.
The pounding in Amana’s temples won’t let up, and it’s beginning to scare her. She has had headaches before, but this is something different—it feels like some kind of creature has invaded her body and is occupying every square inch of it, from the tips of her fingers, which won’t stop tingling, to the pit of her stomach, which feels like it is being stretched and twisted and kneaded like bread dough.
About a week after it all happened, a friend of mine texted me. He said he needed to talk.
I’d known Chris since the late 90s, when I lived in Salt Lake City Utah. Chris now lives in Nevada, in Las Vegas with his boyfriend. It’s not really relevant but they broke up in January sometime over increasing tension in their household. Chris’ boyfriend hadn’t voted in the election. It wasn’t something Chris could let go.
Here’s what the random word generator gave me: “copper, explain, ill-fated, truck, neat, unite, branch, educated, tenuous, hum, decisive, notice.” I was a detective working clues.
The children appear from the edges. Their faces set. Their bodies are covered in iridescent powders that shimmer in hues that could only be seen in dreams. We have been gathered in the square to wait. Our kin have been gathered to watch. The children walk around us in a pack, sniffing, running towards us and back again to their circle. Worn, brown leather pouches hang around their necks, swaying with their movement.
No one wanted to hang out with Janie anymore and I thought that was unfair. It could have been any number of things that turned the group off to her but in my book she was better than alright. Maybe I was being sentimental but Janie was one of ours and I wasn't ready to let her go.
"On with the American machine, down with grass and trees!" Dad said. I laughed, because, for fuck's sake, why was it time to turn the vacant lot next door into a new parking lot? The town was nothing BUT parking lots. We had just found out about the city’s decision, which gave me a helpless feeling.
It was inside the desk where she hid all of her secrets. On the surface were the objects that immediately spoke of the history she didn’t want to hide. The mahogany pencil boxed, handmade and carved with intricate leaves and vines, given to her by her grandmother on the day of her high school graduation; the framed photo of her grandmother, who did not live to see her college graduation; and her favorite coffee mug, the one she says she can’t work without.
So what do you do if you wake up and realize that the gently marinated and care fully crafted and harmoniously preserved memory of the you in your mind’s mirror first formed over twenty years ago, the you that was your most perfected self and doing the best impression of you that you have ever done, the you that you heretofore looked back on wistfully that existed before the stock market crashes and the psychotic ex and the security pat-downs and the parent-teacher meetings and the terrorism and the internet (parental controls, password changes, and screen pop-ups ‘oh my!’)…
“Who woulda thought the desert be this fucking cold?” He tried to raise his shoulders to his ears, but they kept shivering down. It hurt to look at the stars, they were so blistered white and scattered.
It was a summer that had snuck up on us. All of a sudden, condensation appeared against gin glasses and kept skirts slicked to tanned thighs. We would go on parties every other evening, hanging over balconies on Suffolk or Sullivan, catching cool breezes. We would hold cigarettes to our sunburnt lips, lighting them with crisp folds of cash as we sunk into the bursts of music floating up from the second floor.