Showing posts from May, 2020

A Rare Moment of Loquat

Catherine sits cross-legged in the backyard under her mother’s loquat tree, eating its fruit and talking to Jack, her big brother’s best friend, who is just going into his sophomore year of high school as she is entering her freshman year. He’s telling her about what teachers to avoid even though she doesn’t get to choose who her teachers will be, so she’s only half-listening to his words, concentrating more on the music of his voice as they wait for her brother to come back outside. She puts a loquat between her lips and presses down on its flesh, the softness and smoothness of the skin and the meat, and she wonders if this is what a kiss feels like. He says, “You know if anything goes wrong, you can always come to me. I’ll help if I can.” He narrows his eyes as if this is a wise thing to say, and she half wants to laugh at him. Instead, she palms the fruit and crawls over to him on her hands and knees. Without planning or thinking about it, she leans forward, arch

Creature Comfort

Semi-conscious, she turns, feeling the comforting warmth of Smudge against her leg. Her husband didn't approve of pets on the bed, but Joe's been gone two years now.  Her sleepy stretch is mirrored by Smudge's soft paws pushing against her through the duvet. Joe didn't think pets should live indoors at all, but Smudge was tolerated to frighten mice away. If a mouse did get in, Smudge would let them know and guard it's exit from the stair cupboard until it made a mistake and the trap got it. The image of the lifeless mouse drifts with her into drugged sleep. There it morphs into Smudge; a limp scrap of fur at the side of the road. Her stomach clenches again with grief at the memory. The soft creature on her duvet rests its head on her leg. Now fully awake, she stares into the darkness, heartbeat pounding in her throat.

The Storm

For once the weather forecast had been correct. A fierce storm was blowing onto the shore, sending trails of spume across the sand dunes and speckling the marram grass with froth.  Behind the dunes lay a low bungalow, surrounded by a garden stunted by the sea laden air. Inside a couple sat on either side of the kitchen table, nervously watching the clock. “What time is high tide?” he asked. “Noon. In twenty minutes time,” she replied. They both stared across the garden towards the shore, searching for any sign that the sea was about to breach the dunes.  If it did, it would only take minutes to cross the short distance to their home, lying only a few feet above the high tide mark. As a precaution, they had already packed all their most valuable possessions into suitcases and loaded into their cars. Anything else that could be stacked above floor level was in position, just in case. Their neighbours had left a few hours earlier, saying they were heading to their dau


'A six-month vacancy has arisen for a Funeral Administrator, working as part of a team to carry out funeral arrangements for clients within the funeral home or at the client's premises. A flexible approach to working hours is required.' Skills required were unspecified. Since I had none, according to my last employer, this seemed an ideal opportunity to earn my fare to New York. Interview questions were, 'Can you drive?' and 'Are you willing to work evenings?' – thankfully, no nonsense about religion or afterlife. I was the only applicant. Rattle and Croak Funeral Directors were often called out at odd hours to collect a body, but that was better than listening to Ma complaining – mostly about my father, who was never named, and about my failure to improve our lot. I didn't socialise. Morgan had been the love of my life; I wouldn't risk love again. I worked with Croak more than Rattle, who preferred to deal with the cust

Pain_ by Numbers

I capture your features... from the fair Irish skin; to the rich, ruby lips; to the fiery-, emerald-green eyes. The palette of paint strangely washes you with only shades of grey. The numbers do not add up. All I am left with is a monotone portrait of shadow and sadness. Keith Hoerner (BS, MFA) lives, works, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois.