Archive for July, 2013

The Farthest Dock by Sonia Christensen

Jul 26 2013 Published by under Stories

In high school people were always asking Gabe what it felt like to be dead. Because he did too much coke once and died for about twenty-five minutes. Almost every party, someone asked him what it felt like to be dead and he always said the same thing.

He’d start out by asking them if they remembered the farthest floating dock in the reservoir, the rickety one that you could barely see from the shore, the one that all the kids were always daring all the other kids to go out to but everyone was always like, no way. Up until that Troy kid did it and then it became a rite of passage type thing. He’d ask if you remembered all that and if you were one of the kids that went out.

And then if you said, yes, you’d been one of the kids who had gone out, Gabe would ask if you remembered how when you passed the last close-to-the-shore dock you’d be like, there’s no way I’m going to make it. You’d be sure about that. But then you had to keep going because if you turned around you were a pussy. And then if you made it to the dock, you’d be so tired you’d have to lie there for like an hour, it felt like, knowing that the way back was going to be harder because you’d be weaker and the water would be colder.

He’d ask if you remembered how when you were on that dock, so tired you couldn’t move, part of you would be like, I’ll just stay here. I’ll just stay here.

Being dead for twenty-five minutes was like being on that dock, he’d say.

I remember he told that story one time at a party while the bong was going around, everyone nodding along like he was singing us a song. I remember Riley, the kid who peed his pants in the seventh grade, looked up and said, “Well that doesn’t seem too bad.”

And Gabe was like, “I guess it wasn’t the worst thing in the world” and he blew out all the smoke he had just inhaled. “Maybe lonely.”

And everyone kind of nodded like that was a real wise thing to say and I guess it did sound pretty good.

The thing is, I never knew what to make of that story because I’m pretty sure Gabe never made it out to the far dock. I was with him the day that he tried. This was back when we were kids and it was just me and him, all the time. He got maybe halfway between the last close-to-the-shore dock and the far dock. I was watching him from the shore and I remember being able to see his pale torso and black hair stop moving forward and just bob in the water for a minute. And then he turned around and by the time he got back to the shore he looked like he’d lost about fifteen pounds and I remember it freaked me out how much he was shaking. He lay down in the hot sand and made me lie there too and we stayed there for a long time, not saying anything about him not making it even though I could tell it was bothering him bad. And neither one of us ever mentioned it again until people started asking him what it felt like to be dead.

Sonia Christensen lives and works in Boulder, Colorado. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado in May 2012. She has a story published in Corvus magazine and another one accepted for publication in the fall in Devilfish Review.

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Hold by Heather Adams

Jul 11 2013 Published by under Stories

My best friend and her fiancé show me the church by the water, and I ask where the dirt path below the cemetery leads. To the dock, Anna says. Graveyard, he says. Cemeteries aren’t attached to churches. Okay, I tell him. I’m sure you’re right. You can look it up, he says. I look over at Anna, but her face is blank.

Weeks go by. I want to ask if she is sure, but it’s like there’s a curtain in front of her face and I can’t pull it back.

The day of the wedding, Anna, her mother and I wait in a dressing room by the women’s bathroom. The air smells like spicy perfume. Once her dress is on, Anna won’t sit down. Her face is blank again, this time slashed with red lipstick. She points to the window that looks out toward the parking lot. Tell me when he gets here, she says. Please.

Should I say that I’m sure he’ll show up? It wouldn’t be true. I’m not sure. And I don’t know which would be worse, if he comes or if he doesn’t. I stand there without saying anything, looking out at the parking lot. Earlier in the afternoon, there was a thunderstorm. We waited in the car until it was over. It had stopped raining by the time we got out, but Anna held a magazine over her head as we walked toward the church.

Now the sun has come out and it’s hot again. Steam is rising from the black asphalt. I hear a car pull up and I lean closer to the window. It’s only the minister and his wife. They pull up close to the concrete bumper at the front of the parking space in their big, black sedan. She hands him what looks like a breath mint as they walk toward the church.

Anna’s mother comes up beside me. She is wearing a navy suit with an iris corsage on her shoulder and she smells like hairspray.

Anna asks if anyone has seen her lipstick, and I picture the gold tube on the bathroom counter. I turn away from the window and walk past the chair in the corner where Anna’s bouquet is waiting, a purple bruise on the cream damask. The lipstick is on the counter and I grab it without looking in the mirror. Outside, there are people talking and car doors closing.

I go back to Anna and she looks past me. There’s still time, I say. It’s not that late.

I know, she answers. The organist has started to play. I hold out the lipstick, but she doesn’t take it.

There’s a knock at the door and Anna’s father says it’s time. She presses her lips together and reaches for her flowers.

Later, as we leave the church, I walk down to the dock. The sun is setting, and it’s as though the water is on fire, glowing with the fierce knowledge of the bodies buried beneath.

Heather Bell Adams writes essays, poetry, and short fiction. She can be reached at and on Twitter @heatherbelladam.

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