My father is a whisper. A passing cloud. He is there but always receding. A swimmer across the far side of a lake. A bus pulling away. The ground getting smaller as the plane takes off. And so when we go to Mexico City to see him, we do not see him that much after all. And even when he is there he is always also somewhere else.
Scrubland by Leela Raj-Sankar
After the funeral, Andy took me on a drive into the desert, past where the roads turned to dirt and the cookie-cutter suburban houses turned to scraggly, thorn-filled bushes. Predictably, he didn’t say anything for the whole hour, just tapped his fingers against the steering wheel rhythmlessly. Andy never talked much, even when we were kids; it’s why I liked him. But now, suffocating under the bone-dry August heat, I wished he would offer me something to hold on to, even if it was one of the meaningless platitudes I’d spent the entire afternoon fielding.
The day of Kaya’s death marked the end of an extremely anticlimactic monsoon season. Arizona had been drought-prone since before I could remember, but this summer is a different beast, Kaya had told me. I remembered, with sudden, terrible clarity, the redness on her cheekbones that never had time to turn to a full-blown sunburn. This summer is a different beast. She had been warning me the whole time. Why hadn’t I listened?
Mollusks in the Air by Julie Flattery
My dad and I are sitting at this bistro table in the sky having a great conversation—a really lovely time. I’m not eating or drinking anything, but he’s eating a bowl of steamed mussels that appears to be bottomless. He’s making no headway whatsoever.
Eating seems like the wrong word because he’s actually chowing down on them like there’s no tomorrow, which there isn’t, for him at least, because he’s dead. He’s been dead for years, but he showed up in my dream to say hi and eat these mussels. He’s talking with his mouth full, which is ironic to me because he was always very strict about table manners. I guess all decorum subsides in the afterlife since he really does seem more laidback.
Carrots by Phoebe T
I was smoking in dad’s garden, pacing and stamping around. There were some seeds on Dad’s kitchen table and I had sprinkled them onto the soil. I might have fainted or tripped, the doctors say. I don’t know which.
Dad’s neighbour saw me, and she got me to the hospital. They didn’t want to send me home that night, so they kept me in a bed there. I listened to the same podcast over and over. It was about wild deer living on a housing estate on the edge of London. The deer peeped in the ground floor windows while people were doing their washing up. I must have listened to it five or six times. I kept forgetting parts, because of the concussion.
The Big Empty by Nick Olson
The body didn’t matter anymore, so it wasn’t much. Some meat. Loose skin over hard bone. A splaying of nerves, biological wires that were always ever misfiring anymore, sciatica, numbness, pain throughout the day. The body was dying, and he needed a way out of it.
There was a jackport in the city, couple models to choose from, but no power to get it running again since the collapse. All the tech in the world and nothing to see it back to life. June had always liked this city, so thoughts of her kept him company as he walked the empty streets most nights, dodging sinkholes, collapsed bridges, ancient stalled traffic to get into another store, scavenge parts, look for food for this damned body.
The Reunion on Glacier St. by Ethan Kahana
It felt funny wearing my brother’s cologne. The fragrances wafted through the moist, trapped air of our old bedroom, the soft smell of the sage coming through the dimly lit room with a small hint of cedarwood and mint. I could tell that the air hadn’t been used in a long time. Years, maybe. I put on my brother’s black suit, the pinstriped jacket with the real-looking white rose lapel, the leather shoes, top hat, everything. It finally fit after years of hanging off my body every time I tried it on. I remember standing on homemade stilts and stuffing the suit with paper towels to try to get into it, much to mother’s consternation. Unable to look at myself in the mirror for too long, I pulled it off and hung each article of clothing with great care, making sure there was not a wrinkle to be found.
In Memoriam by Aishwarya Javalgekar
I do not have an earliest memory of my mother. Instead, I have a moment. A moment of her laughter. She tilts her head back slightly as she opens her mouth wide and lets out a sound. A wild, free sound that tinkles through the room, enters the people around her, and makes them smile. Infectious. Charming. Charismatic.
I am not a part of this moment. I am simply a spectator – watching her laugh, admiring her from a distance, waiting for her to notice me. She is wearing a saree, her trusted maroon lipstick, and a red bindi – her usual work attire. She is on her way to college, where she is an English teacher, no – lecturer, no – vice principle. Labels are important.
Mourning by G S
At 4am, I’m angry.
But that’s part of it too.
How come they get to carry on?
Why you not one of them?