“The Lost and Erasable Parts of Us”
by Robert Vaughan
I moved into a basement apartment. The first thing to go was my sense of smell. Whether by cognitive choice or simply chance, everything smelled like Cheetos. I tried to follow where you ended up. A night in the park, then through the Holland Tunnel, then I’d heard you moved away. That same day I lost my pancreas. And my Islets of Langerhans. Missing. So I walked past our apartment, before my feet disappeared, and the building was no longer there. It had been shipped to Guatemala, the strikers told me. Archeological research. That night while searching for more information on the internet, my fingers began dissolving, eventual stumps. I threw out all the nail polish.
What part remains to be seen, my landlord asked, when I questioned her about the basement. I wanted to go back to the beginning. Back to when you and I met…those late night pep rallies, bonfires, shooting stars. Acne. Before gangrene and decay, prior to those times you wouldn’t talk for days. Ignored me. My identity tied up in a bottle. I craved my smell back, my decency, shameless will. I grew gills, slithered up the stairs, fettered away, toward some desert city, in undulating waves.
by Meg Tuite
I moved into a basement apartment. Found myself entrenched in shadows that daylight couldn’t thwart; dark angles made denser by Borya, a rabid bull of a Russian I unearthed from a vagrant bar one night, who staggered in every afternoon with gifts, dragging massive boxes of cardboard, planks of wood, half-eaten couches and chairs, saying, “What the hell, America is massive dump. What thief of economy throws grand circumstance away?”
The Russian and I went at each other’s junk like the packs of cigarettes we sucked on before and after we became a human landfill of overripe histories and orgasms. I waited until he left each morning for more of his so-called gems and then heaved out a few at a time so he wouldn’t notice, trashed them in the alley. In and out, our lives pulsed like lungs without the pink, without endless pantomimes of despairing couples buying new stuff to keep from having sex, dying. Borya would construct an ‘us’ out of stranger’s damaged goods.
I limped out to the dumpster with a battered table. “You,” Borya said stepping out of shadows, clutching a broken lamp. I dropped the mutilated table. Who else, I thought. Second-hand man was somewhat demented, but the sex was torrid. “Bulldozed savages, hostage to shiny plastic from Walmarts,” he sighed, bit a cigarette between his lips, picked up the table and lamp. “Come,” he said. “I must bankrupt these streets of childhood from you.”
I could be recycled. I raised an eyebrow, nodded.
Robert Vaughan leads writing roundtables at Redbird- Redoak Writing. His prose and poetry can be found in numerous journals. His short fiction, “10,000 Dollar Pyramid” was a finalist in the Micro-Fiction Awards 2012. He is senior flash fiction editor at JMWW, and Lost in Thought magazines. He was the head judge for Wisconsin People & Ideas 2012 Fiction contest. He hosts Flash Fiction Fridays for WUWM’s Lake Effect. His book, Flash Fiction Fridays, is at Amazon. His poetry chapbook, Microtones, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. His blog: http://rgv7735.wordpress.com.
Meg Tuite‘s writing has appeared in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, Epiphany, JMWW, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle and Boston Literary Magazine. She has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She is the fiction editor of Santa Fe Literary Reviewand Connotation Press, author of Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, Disparate Pathos (2012) Monkey Puzzle Press, Reverberations (2012) Deadly Chaps Press, Implosion and other stories (2013) Sententia Books and has edited and co-authored The Exquisite Quartet Anthology-2011. Exquisite Quartet Anthology-2012 coming soon. Her blog: http://megtuite.wordpress.com.