Archive for January, 2013

Dill and Coriander by Catherine Roth

Jan 17 2013 Published by under Stories

Because the kitchen is underground, reception is spotty. If she wedges her phone between the dill and coriander she can get two, maybe three bars.

I don’t speak much Spanish, but I think “Me gusta cheesesteak” roughly translates to “I’m hungover.”

For a brief moment, when I go down to grab table 6’s order and I see the way she glances between the dill and coriander, Yolani and I transcend language to form a sisterhood.

The man I slept with last night also has yet to call or text me.

Roth is an advertising assistant in Midtown and writes most of her fiction on a bus inside the Holland Tunnel. Her work has previously appeared in Full of Crow Quarterly Fiction and The WiFiles.

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Petra by Matthew Garcia

Jan 04 2013 Published by under Stories

I watched Petra from the bottom of Lake Saiko, though she did not know I was there. It was the fourth winter of my death.

She stood on the icy surface of the lake, shivering. Frosty winds blew the snow fall in great diagonal angles across Petra’s face. I could see her shoe prints as she tip-toed across the lake. She did a quick, shuffling dance then dropped her jacket to the ice.

The deep currents flowed soft most of the time, like a coddling mother, and my body moved very little throughout the years. I watched much. A small boy’s toy boat, its blue and red paint peeling from grains of sand rasping against it for the past year once fell into the lake. I watched it make rhythmic, gyrating turns before resting at my side. There were other things. A pair of swimming goggles with a missing lens. Soda bottles. Dead trout, its remains eaten by its brothers and sisters. There were the occasional rotting tree trunks, termite eaten and hollow. A large husk of a thing that moved through the waters like shadowy sentinels. They morphed into hungry monsters of my imagination that hung waiting in the murky depths of my vision, waiting for the moment when my consciousness finally blinked out of existence, and only my corpse remained.

Earlier in the year a storm had rained debris down into the lake. Leaves and twigs were cast around me, and I felt my body begin to slip down into the pulpy lake bottom. It frightened me. Would the darkness swallow me? Would I cease to think? It made me wonder how much of my body was left. If I could look down upon myself, would I see only bones? Or had the cold and ice preserved me? I pushed away the thoughts.

Petra made her way to a small ice fishing hole. The fishing hole was made by two drunken fishermen who I came to know, or watch I suppose, through their yearly fishing trips. I came to enjoy watching as visitors came and went. In those first few years, after the immediate guilt of my actions had begun to dull, it was watching these families and friends playing on the lake that kept me going.

The sadness in her eyes startled me, and her expression that was such a stark contrast to what I had come to love. Her eyes were glassy and dead, stony. Her mouth was slack with grief and disappointment. I had always been quiet, reserved. Petra’s calling in life was to fill these silences with bits of nonsense that would make us both laugh. Her eyes always danced with a spark, as if she knew something that no one else did.

“Did you know that Lake Saiko was the original birthplace of the Loch-Ness Monster?” she asked once, as we sat at the edge of the water. We hiked often in the trails surrounding Mount Fuji, back when Petra still had a job teaching English in one of the many colleges in Tokyo. Lake Saiko, the smallest of the Five Lakes, was away from the bigger, bustling crowds surrounding Lake Kawaguchiko.

“They decided that the creature was too large for such a small lake, so they transported it to Scotland.”

I smiled.

When a few moments passed, she carried on. “Japan was pissed. You can’t imagine how much in tourism proceeds they–”

“That’s ridiculous.” I said, laughing.

When Petra reached the fishing hole she sat at the edge for a moment, hugging her knees close to her chest and then slipping her boots off. With a calm, almost beatific ease she swayed herself over the edge and dropped into the icy water.

My whole being reacted immediately. My will lurched forward toward her, to pull her down with me, but trapped in my body, I was restrained to watch. But oh, how I wanted her.

With me.

Her body contorted, and her face shriveled up in an unmistakable mask of agony. She opened her mouth to scream, but only air bubbles came out. She pulled her arms in, wrapping them around her slender body.

Petra’s face jerked up toward the hole above her and she kicked her feet, rising toward the surface. She missed the hole and, instead, beat clenched fists against the ice. It was useless. I saw the fishermen struggle for an hour to carve the hole, slurring curses at one another, as they beat against the ice with picks and knives. Petra’s fists bled but she pounded on, her hands undoubtedly numb from the cold.

A dark weight began settling on my chest, and the guilt that I had bled out long ago trickled in. Petra, whom I had loved since our first date. At that moment it was my greatest desire to have her body next to mine. The strain in my chest, my heart, disintegrated. My desire was appalling, disgusting. I wanted her with me. Even if it meant her death.

Petra found the hole then. Her frenzied hands pawed frantically for the edge. She pulled herself up over the surface, but the ice crumbled under her hurried hands and the ice collapsed sinking her down again. I thought she would be finished then, and for a moment I could not look at her. I caused this, I thought. Her feet kicked out and this time she gained the momentum she needed to drag herself out. She laid on her side for a few minutes, shivering and sobbing. I could feel the deep heaving of her sobs from the pit of my stomach. Eventually she stood, collected her jacket, and left.

I do not know what became of her.

Mathew Allen Garcia lives in Hesperia, California. He has four dogs, as well as countless demons that he has yet to exorcise onto paper. His stories can be found mostly in his head, and sometimes in the webpages of Litreactor, where they are dismembered by his peers and then reassembled by him in the quiet of his home.

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