- Just Colic, Jennifer Ostopovich
- Sleeping Beauty™ & The Shark, June Caldwell
- Things of No Particular Value, Ea Anderson
- After Stephen, T.D. Oren
- Cuticles, Calla Preece
- Naustalgia, Katharine Strange
- Land Wars in Asia, Bennett Durkan
- Eva Ate One Too Many, Katie-Rose Goto-Švić
- The Wizard, Kent Kosack
- St. Frances Fed the Animals, Susan Demarest
- The Musings of Mrs. Magritte, Joyce Goldenstern
- The Bodies Fill The River, Jessica Denzer
L’Esprit Literary Review || Volume I Issue I
D. W. White, Editor
Jessica Denzer, Associate Editor
The heavy drapes are drawn, so that day is indistinguishable from night. I swallow hard. Acetaminophen clings to the back of my tongue. A taste I associate with childhood comfort: bittersweet. The clink of a spoon in a glass of ginger ale, the chaser for a pair of acrid cherry flavoured pills. There’s no comfort this time, and no flat ginger ale chaser. There’s not even juice to quell the empty pitching of my stomach.
Once upon a grey parkland with maroon siege towers, there was a perverted King in a pink shirt. Like all perverts, he wore a mole on his face and reeked of aftershave. As the city’s inhabitants tumbled out of goose eiderdowns to crunch on high-fibre cereals lathered in pus juice from unhealthy cows, the King sped towards ElixirPharm in an Aston Martin, blaring Beethoven: Symphony No. 9. ‘Yes!’ he roared at the onward day. ‘Yes! We’re winning!’
She has started not to expect much from the near future. They have settled here in this town, they know, as much as you can ever know, that they will stay here for at least five years.
I had packed and we had chatted a little in the kitchen before I left. She had smiled at me as I was opening the front door, a smile that only she could give, the kind of honest and heartfelt impulsion of kindness she never shied away from. And now I was resting on a stiff bus seat, watching Newton scrolling by in the setting sun.
Watching television together gave me time to sneak those little glances down towards her nails. This was important because it was my job to keep Alice’s nails clean and proper just like it was my job to keep the whole of Alice clean and proper.
The Parrish children were frighteningly blond—they had the kind of hair that made it seem like they’d been through a tremendous shock. My first impression is that they were ugly children, and yes, I know you’re not supposed to say that (it’s not their fault after all) but, objectively, they had inherited the least attractive components of each parent: Andrew’s overbite, Sarah’s porcine eyes.
The four of us sit on each side of the table. Plastic cups, in various states of fullness, and scraps of trash from Taco Bell form a circle around the world as depicted by Risk. I move my troops—I chose black so that I can call my army The Black Parade, which my friends don’t get or don’t find funny even though I find it funny despite not liking emo, but, then again, that’s adds a layer of what passes for ironic humor—out of Venezuela and into Central America.
Drip, drip, drip of banality and hatred. Ate one too many Tim Tams. Saw one two many things she can’t un-see.
California is where we’re going, Fred and Jenny and me. This trip isn’t an exact reenactment, per se, of The Wizard, the film we did together in 1989. It’s more of an homage, a reclamation of that moment, of that time. Christian Slater as the teen heartthrob. Real Life’s lush, synth-pop request to be sent an angel, right now, right now.
One time I read a story about a man who, trying to make more sense of his life, moved to a California forest community called—I’m not kidding—“Last Chance,” built a rudimentary shack with no indoor plumbing, and then renounced money, sex and all material possessions except for the 800 pounds of seed he drove into town to buy each month in order to feed the woodland animals. That was nice.
Around the black flame a halo of shadow flickers. An anti-halo of sorts. The egg’s all locked up in its cage. Which sign means hope? The apple, the hand, the stone, or the wall? Pick one. In the evening after the hour of closing, we walk the museum halls alone. Alone in the evening after the hour of closing we walk the museum halls. We walk the museum halls alone in the evening after the hour of closing. This is not an apple. This is not a pipe.
Lately, I’ve noticed a pattern. After I’ve spoken to someone on the phone–anyone who I love and who loves me–I say to myself, “See, you are not alone.” As if the purpose of the phone call has been to affirm this. You are not alone, You are not alone. As if this reassurance can ward off loneliness. Or aloneness. But these words don’t work. They don’t get to the heart of the fear.
Photo credit: Kate Doherty, Unsplash
in mediam mentem // issue one