Pulse by Emma Gotbaum

July 16, 2009

He smelled like comfort, clean laundry, and boy. The familiar tinge of cigarette smoke, Marlboro Reds, was missing. His heart was racing, a blue vein clearly throbbing in his neck. Her cheek was pressed against his chest, above his heart; its beat reciprocating through her. The sweat from his body created a seal between their two forms. His skin was soft, his breathing shallow. Muddled sensations gripped the two of them.

Her dark wavy hair spilled across his chest. One large hand tangled itself within it, smoothing it against him. The girl suddenly pushed herself off his chest and rolled onto her side to face him. Within the proximity the silence was eventually broken.

“Just in case I die, I just want you to know now that I love you a lot,” he said breathily.

The girl laughed. “You’re not going to die, silly,” acting to convince herself just as much as him. She grabbed his hands, lacing their fingers together, and pressed her lips against their tie.

“I know, but still,” he insisted. He kissed her hand back, and then the pale skin of her shoulder.

The two then slipped away, knowing they’d have to run the second heavy footsteps could be heard.

Inhale, exhale, thump, thump.

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by Lauren Tenorio

July 16, 2009

The first rule: if you’re a nice kid you don’t go into the bad part of town. Here, the brick of the building sides have faded, the window screens have holes, like mouths gasping for air. Here, little boys can disappear just around the corner from their house, gunfire sounds like clockwork every night.
A teenage boy in nice clothes sat on the curb of Elm, in front of the old textile factory. A few minutes later, a long-haired girl came from around the corner, bundled up in a huge sweatshirt, jumpy, already.

He stands, “Want a cigarette?”

She flinches away. “I can’t believe you just asked me that.”

“Right,” says the boy, and produces a lighter from the back pocket of his True Religion jeans, holding the flame to the cigarette in his mouth.

“Don’t blow smoke in my face, I hate that,” says the girl and then adds, “Please.”

“When have I ever blown smoke in your face?”

The girl is silent.

The boy exhales smoke in her direction. “How’s your mom?”

“The same.”

The boy smiles. “That’s too bad.”

“Only for you.”

The boy takes a long drag on his cigarette. “Look I can’t help what happened. If anything-“ He stops.

“What? If anything it’s my fault, right?”

“No, that’s not what I was going to say.”

“Then what were you going to say?”

“Look, I didn’t come out here to fight,” he checks his watch. “I have to be home in less than an hour.”

“So go.”

There is a long pause. The boy stamps out his cigarette and then lights another.

“I don’t want to go. I love you, that’s why I’m here..”

“Don’t give me that-“ starts the girl but then she looks at him, her eyes sparkling with tears.

“You love me too, don’t start.”

“I love you,” says the girl, “So much.”

“And I haven’t ever blown smoke in your face.”

The girl hesitates. “You’re right. You haven’t.”

The boy blows smoke in her face. “Good.”

They are quiet again.

“Is your car in the shop?” asks the girl, finally.

“No, I got it out. Cost a shitload though. I don’t have any other money.”

“What does that mean? What can we do now, then?”

The boy shakes his head.

“Oh fuck it.” The girl turns away angrily.. “Give me a cigarette.”

He hands one to her, and lights it for her. She leans into him for a second.

“I’m just saying I have no money for it right now.”

“So what will we do?” the girl asks again.

“I don’t know..”

“Can you ask your father?”

“He’s already mad about the car, I don’t want to make him more angry.”

“This is more important than a car.”

The boy doesn’t answer. He stands. “I have to leave.”

“Aren’t you going to give me a ride?”

He looks away, and then throws the cigarette from his mouth as far as it will go. “Alright.”

His car is very old, it was his grandfather’s before it was his. The girl dangles her cigarette out the window.

“I’m cold,” she says as he starts the engine.

“Heater’s broken.”

“Of course.”

The boy thrusts the car into gear. “Sorry I don’t have a nicer car, then. Sorry I’m not as rich as some of the other boys you could have dated.”

“Oh, stop.”

“I’m just saying.”

“I thought you didn’t want to fight.”

“I don’t.”

The girl flicks her cigarette ash out the window. “Let’s go get drunk,” she says, when she turns back, her eyes shining again..

“Are you sure?”

The girl smiles. “Of course.”


This Morning, In An Idealized World by Emma Gotbaum

July 16, 2009

Waking my best friend from her slumber can only be compared to summoning the devil. Green light filters through the room shining upon sensitive eyes sealed with sleep. My friend reacts as though she’s allergic to sunlight. The groans begin, followed by wild thrashing as she manages to ensnare herself in her own covers.

She grunts out most unpleasantly, “EMMMAAAAAAAAAA SHUTTT UPPP,” and continues to flail in a sea of linen. PMS anyone?

In the morning her house is comprised of several aromas. Coffee wafts upstairs from the kitchen, the distinctive smell of saline pours out of every bathroom, and fresh cut grass creeps in through cracked windows.

My best friend is an eclectic combination of Mexican roots, Jews from New York and love. Currently the two donors of her genome can be heard bustling around our house. Hidden within her guest room we wordlessly wish for them to have no reason to investigate into our wellbeing. Poorly disguised beer bottles will not necessarily make their morning.

Her mother’s features are proud, with high planed cheekbones and an aquiline Aztec nose passed along from her ancestors. She tells me that in a former life I was an overly curious Beagle; hence my affinity for digging myself into holes…or other difficult situations.

Her father is tall, almost gawky, with eager green eyes and bright blonde hair. A pair of basic black rimmed glasses inhabits his face, making his scholarly occupation even more evident. The union of the two crafted the surly, beautiful & sun-kissed demon creature below me. The creature reaches blindly for a bottle of aspirin, for me to magically place in her expectant palm.

“UGHHHHHHHHHHHH,” bellows the creature.

“Good morning to you too.” I can’t help but smile like a jackass.

“Fuck….obscure liquids….”

She then lapses back into a thorny state of unconsciousness. I leave the room as silently as the wooden floorboards will allow me.


Letters From a Friend by Patrick McGuigan

July 15, 2009

“Bill, how are you? I fell last month and broke my leg. It hurt. I’m feeling better now. Write me back!”

“I miss you, Bill. Rain, wind, sleet, hail. Rain, wind, sleet, hail. Rain, wind, sleet, hail. This place is a shithole.”

“Bill, I moved today. It’s much nicer here. I even met someone on the train. She has pleasing features and a gentle temperament. She could be my Daisy. Write me some time, alright?”

“Bill, why do you never write me back? You know the woman I met? She’s a whore. I’m wasting my time.

“Remember when we were kids? We were on your roof, and we had those fireworks. Oh, those lights, like fireflies in the sky. I miss that.”

“This is the last time I’m writing you. I dropped a dish. It shattered. I shattered. It’s a cancer of the brain, and still you never write. We had the best of times, and the worst of times, but I guess every story has its ending. I’m just about there.

John Doe

1920-1967

Pennies in the mouths of the dead

Isn’t that silly?


Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun by Lauren Tenorio

July 15, 2009

“Ever thought you’ve made a mistake?”

“Everyone makes mistakes, hon.”

I’m lying on his bed, half asleep. He’s leaning out his window but the smoke from the cigarette he’s holding is still filtering into the room. There are no stars in the sky yet, just the dimness of his bedside light, burning into the cool blackness of the inside of my eyelid

“Don’t call me that,” he says, looking out at the empty sky, at this town that both of us are more than willing to leave behind. He checks himself. “I mean, like have you ever wished you could just take everything back?”

“Everything?”

Ash falls from his fingertips, silent snow in the middle of summer. He takes a drag.
“Everything.”

“I don’t ever want to take back everything,” I say, and watch him exhale smoke, out of his nostrils, slowly, like a sleeping dragon.

“I do,” he says, so softly I almost can’t hear him, and as he takes another breath of smoke, I imagine it, traveling down, down, until it reaches his lungs, turning beautiful pink into black in just a matter of seconds.


Tempest Dollar by Adrienne Parker

July 15, 2009

Two men stood over a leather wallet on the street. The first one pointed at it.

“That’s my wallet.”

“You can’t pull that on me, no idiot would try to convince the owner that his wallet wasn’t his. It’s mine, it fell out of my pocket.”

The first man froze. “Look at the license, that’s my photo.”

“No, no, no,” the other man left the wallet where it was. “Prove that’s it’s yours, without picking it up or looking inside. What’s in there, I ask you?” He crossed his arms. “Can you tell me how I order my credit cards? What zipper my business card is in? Or maybe you can inform me what photos I carry in there, name them all.”

The first man didn’t move. There was a long pause before he said, “My wife, and my children – the two of them.”

“Bah, lucky guess, but you can’t name them. But, there’s the family reunion photo too. My parents and in-laws all together, my older brother.” He sniffed.

The first man looked up at the other, his eyes hollow.

The other man stared back, “What kind of man are you?” But the first man couldn’t answer.

Shaking his head, the other man picked up the wallet and handed it over to the first man.

“What kind of person can’t say who he is, let alone know what he keeps in his wallet.”


The Walls Will Before We Do by Julia Moss

July 15, 2009

Broken shadows dance on the crumbled and faded sides of the old building. Though the outside looks rundown, the apartments inside appear quaint and clean. The sun had set long ago, and the sky transitions into its deepest shade of blue. Only a broken light leads the way to the door.

“Hey,” the man says.
“Hi,” says the woman, “how was your day?”
“Fine, I guess. No big deal.”
“You say that everyday, you know.”
“Yeah,” says the man, “I know.”
“I wish you wouldn’t be so difficult.”
“How am I being difficult? I answered your question,” the man says.
“You keep coming home later,” the woman says.
“And with the extra time you still don’t have dinner ready.”

The shards of shattered dishes glisten from their spot in the garbage can.
=0 A

“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I didn’t hear you ask a question,” the man says, “all I heard was a statement.”
“Don’t get smart with me. I don’t find you funny.”
“I thought that’s why you married me.”

The woman pauses, not knowing what to say. The cheap air-conditioning causes the floor boards to vibrate. Even with it on, the room burns like hot cinders.

“Well you’re not funny anymore,” the woman says.
“Ouch. I’m heartbroken.”
“Who is she,” asks the woman.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think you do…” the woman says, as outside, the bricks of the building crumble into a sea of black.