Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

This October issue of See Spot Run is one of transition, our new staff is able to embark on a journey to shape the journal in ways that might not have been done before. We wish you to free your creativity and soar, and as a staff we wish to do this same for the journal. We hope you will see us through our transitional times, with the continuously high level of writing that is featured here, to a time where See Spot Run speaks out as an individual. To break from the pack, from tradition, and to set our own expectations is the dream, we hope you are ready to embark on this journey together. Welcome to the Golden Allusion.

Elizabeth Webb

Editor-in-Chief

The Maternity Unit by Suvi Mahonen

Strands of light blue twisted, crossed over, then sank into the expanse of knitted wool only to emerge at the next stitch and repeat the pattern again. They ran in parallel symmetry, converging up to the pompom at the top of the cap. Around the circumference of the brim ran a border of yellow on which marched small embossed elephants, each holding the tail of the one before it with its trunk. Fine wisps of dark hair the same colour as Nick’s curled out from beneath the edge to cling to its fuzzy surface in places. When we’d bought it eight weeks ago I’d thought it was too small to fit anyone, but Nick had correctly guessed it would be the right size.
The skin of Bobby’s forehead not covered by the cap was furrowed as if caused by a frown. This accentuated his eyebrows, delicate lines of barely there hair on the ledge of his sockets, inclining medially upwards to form an arc at the top of the bridge of his nose. His nose was short, more like a nubbin, tilted slightly upwards at the end like mine; its tip was a little raw, as if wiped by a tissue one too many times.
I ran my finger over the smooth and doughy surface of his swollen lips. Velvety glossed skin a few centigrade cooler than mine. Drooping in loose repose, colour not right, a dusky shade of purple.
He lay in my arms, loosely wrapped in a green flannel blanket, the back of his head resting in the crook of my left elbow. His body was both light and also strangely heavy. I held my arms still though there was no reason why. Looking at him I tried to align our eyes. His lids were parted slightly, a hint of blue between moist lashes. As I sat there, propped with three plastic-covered wipe-down pillows between my back and the bed’s head, I kept wanting, almost waiting for those eyes to blink.
Nick sat on the edge of the bed, arm on my shoulder, looking at our Bobby. Afternoon light angled in through the window and cast Venetian-striped contrasting shadows on our son’s already mottled cheeks. My finger moved downward tracing his chin, then onwards across his jaw to his left ear, curving to avoid an open patch of sloughed skin. It wasn’t the only one. There were two on his right cheek and a large one on the side of his neck, the full extent of its angry margins concealed by the collar of his Peter Rabbit jumpsuit. Made of the softest white cotton, it was the outfit I’d planned for our baby to wear on his first trip back to our home. Across the garment multiple little rabbits sat on their haunches, cheeks puffed with chewing, holding a large carrot whose tip was missing. Sewn into the outside seam of the left shoulder was a tiny blue tag saying this was a genuine item. Matching mitts and booties were still in the bag.
I moved aside a fold of blanket so I could see more of him. His left arm was angled, bent at the elbow, resting on the front of his chest. The embroidered cuff of the suit’s sleeve was hitched a short way up the forearm. Between the rim of the cuff and the base of Bobby’s closed fist circled a thick clear plastic band fastly secured. In the pocket of the band a slip of paper had words typed on it in small letters, the portion visible to me saying, ‘Baby of Alicia Rus …’ The bend over his wrist’s bony prominence obscured the rest. A vein line of discolouring more pronounced than that of the skin went up the back of his hand to the fourth knuckle dimple. Lifting his hand gently I straightened his four fingers and thumb from their loose clench. The webbing between them was puffy and wrinkled, like he’d been soaking in a tub for too long. Such small and frail digits despite their also waterlodden state, the creases over their joints swollen to mere faint lines. On his distal pads were enlarged whorls of print. Opaque slivers of flesh were peeling back from around the nails. I closed his fingers again, covering his hand with mine.
We remained in silence.
Me, my husband and our baby.
I was conscious of sounds from outside the room—muffled voices, the ping of a call bell and the diminishing roll of a trolley. But these didn’t enter my reverie. The only noise that was real to me was the whistle of breath from my nostrils and the clicking of the clock’s second hand. A mere moment in time, yet this seemed like forever.
‘Would you like an autopsy to be performed?’ Dr Taylor had asked us.
‘Is it necessary?’ I said.
‘It’s your choice. But it may help to find out exactly what went wrong.’
‘We’ll think about it,’ Nick said.
Dr Taylor stood there by the side of my bed. His gaze kept shifting between Bobby and the green blanket. From the edge of my eye I saw his hands move to cross each other and rest at the front of his belt. Speckles of blood soiled the cuffs of his white shirt. I wanted him to leave but also needed him to stay. It was as if I had the delusion that he was somehow able to reverse this. He remained there for a few more awkward minutes then made his excuses and left the room with a final ‘Sorry’.
It was then that Nick had put his arm around my shoulder, and we stayed that way with Bobby cradled against my swelled breasts that were aching with the need to lactate.
‘You haven’t called my mum yet, have you?’ I asked Nick as I held onto Bobby’s hand.
‘Do you want me to?’
I shook my head. Once our families knew, it would be real.
I stared across the room at the wall opposite. Glints of slatted sunlight reflected off the glass that protected a framed painting. A lamb standing on a hill’s green slope. Underneath it against the wall was an empty cot on wheels. It was the one in which the midwife had brought Bobby back in to me once she had cleaned, weighed and dressed him.
I looked back at my son and squeezed his hand gently. His soft nails pressed into the folds of my palm. I turned to look into Nick’s bloodshot eyes.
‘Can you ask the midwives if there are any nail clippers around?’
‘Why?’
‘I don’t want him to be buried with long nails,’ I said.
I started to cry.

Bones by Todd Follett

it is the bones that come
together willingly
amongst fractures
metatarsals interlaced
protected by skin sheathes
confined with rings
burdened by emeralds
and sentimental things

the drift of the pelvis
spine arched like a lever
skin and light vacillating

the haunt of another’s voice
transmitted from their skeleton
must hit one’s middle ear
its three tiny bones
hammer, stirrup, anvil
that frame the far
as it becomes the near

Breath by Taylor McAllister

This evening my friend Tom has asked me to accompany him to the bar. Trips to the bar are not my favorite thing in the world. Bars tend to be loud, cramped, and leave my wallet and my head regretting the venture in the morning. However, Tom guilted me with a reminder that I skipped out on playing Dungeons and Dragons a few days prior and this would be an excellent way of hanging out. Fine, I suppose I can suffer a bar for the sake of friendship. There has been snowfall all day so this would actually be a great time see what the world outside my room has transformed into. I put on my coat (not the nice one though; I am not trying to impress anyone) and follow Tom out into the white-powdered streets.

Winter has taken full arrest of the town. The trees and bushes became white masses in which their identity was veiled behind white ambiguity. Snow covers the ground just as it has in previous years. Everything loses their unique textures and colors, the winter veil creates a pause, perhaps even a rift, in time. The white silhouettes of tress and hills remind me of the northern trails I traversed on snowmobile as a youth.  The yet to be shoveled sidewalk became a fresh cross-country ski trail offer the temptation of being the first to traverse its path. The nip and bite of the chilled air is no more than a gentle touch on my cheek. The white silhouettes of tress and hills remind me of the northern trails I traversed on snowmobile as a youth. The longer I gaze the more blurred I become. That hill over there could be/is the one I jumped for the first time. That tree could be/is the one my cousin drove straight into. That lake is where I raced my father and uncle. I forget where and when I am/was as winter transports me to a different time and place.

I walk down the street towards the bar and I do not see the asphalt covered pathway; I see a snow covered trail tucked away in the arboreal lands in the North. To my left is not Tom, but my father. I see his once timeless grin as he drops his helmet visor and revs his snowmobile’s engine to a high pitch whine. Dad’s excitement becomes my own. My mom and sister already went back to the cabin. Now was the time when we could get away with our competitive, boyish shenanigans and not be reprimanded. We were about to race down the limestone trail and one of us would attain bragging rights if we reached the ferry before the other. This rare of moment of indulging in a guilty pleasure would not be wasted. I give my dad a lopsided grin, drop my own visor, and pin the throttle to the handlebar.

What I see next is not the limestone trail zooming past, racing at unreasonable speeds against my father, but the snow covered front of the bar. My father is gone, just like his hair and marriage, and Tom stands beside me shivering. He does not share the same sentiment for winter as I do. We walk into the bar to try and enjoy yet another wonderfully frigid day indoors amongst neighbors and strangers sharing space and numbing cheer. As I sit quietly at a table and observe my friend attempt to woo two girls (an ambitious bastard) I find myself longing to see my father’s grin again. I want to feel the exhilaration of reckless speed down a snow covered trail and the tinge of numb cheeks being reinvigorated as blood returns to its rightful place. Looking down at my glass I see the drudges of whiskey left behind. I quickly down the rest of it and feel it burn down my throat and settle its shallow warmth within my chest. The comfort of this drink will leave quickly, leaving only induced numbness and regrets soon after. At least the numbness that comes with winter’s chill the warmth of your cheeks returns with only a burning sensation. It feels as if that return of warmth burns you clean; life is brought back to you rather than taken. The burning sensation which accompanies alcohol leaves you feeling nothing. An abyss, which offers stunted sensations at best, engulfs you and isolates the warmth of anything from you.

Long after, and many drinks later, Tom forgoes his venture for human comfort and decides the box of Cheez-Its in his room is all the comfort he needs. I am happy to leave the bar. It was loud, hot, filled with heavily intoxicated and sweaty people; how can anyone find it appealing to even attempt create even a single night of fleeting romance out of such an environment? As we walk back our abode I look around for my father and the snow-laden trail. I long to once again live through that moment of joy, the once timeless grin, the ecstasy of speed, and the bragging rights that followed. None came to me. I could not even feel the loving chill of the wind. The thieving warmth of the whiskey numbed and stole from me what I desired most. Maybe I did so on purpose. As much as I wanted to re-live those memories, to return to the past, I also desperately wanted to avoid them. I knew that those memories would leave me, and I would once again be left in the present and the unknown of the future. The shadows ahead I fear more than those I have travelled through already.

As my mind traverses these thoughts Tom ventures drunkenly ahead. I watch him stumble gallantly forward; I do not feel like hastening my pace to keep up with him. He is swerving back and forth rather violently. Not enough to be in any real danger, but a straight line is an abstract idea to him at this point. As I watch Tom I begin seeing the snow covered trails once again. Tom began another metamorphosis, this time into my cousin Ryan as I watched him ride his snowmobile down a trail. It was Ryan’s first time driving a snowmobile by himself. My father had asked me to stay behind Ryan and make sure he stayed with the group and did not hurt himself. I loathed the employ given to me, but I accepted it anyways. Someone had to watch the young one as he learned. He followed the bend of the trail at too swift a speed and lost control of his snowmobile, crashing into a tree and wrecking the front end of the machine. I saw my cousin lay in the snow crying, feeling like he had done the worst thing in his life. I could not, did not, console him. I saw this as part of the learning experience. He was not hurt, only a machine had been damaged, which could be fixed, this was something he had to get through on his own. After the tears ceased I walk up to him and offer my hand; he learned something invaluable from this experience, something that is his alone. As I lift up Ryan I no longer see him. I see Tom, who hit a tree drunkenly, being brought back to his feet. Winter gave me another memory in which to re-live for only moment.

The uniformity of winter creates a world that is all too similar to the past. The stillness of winter slows down time and allows one to look back and experience what happened before. This small and unassuming adventure with Tom on a winter’s night will be engrained within my memory not because of what we did that evening, but because of what that winter night allowed me to recall. Come spring this seasonal safety of the past melts with the snow and the dangers of an unknown future begin to threaten once again. I look at Tom and see him simply enjoying the moment. I do not know if he has seen fragments of the past tonight, or if he is worried about the future. All that he is focused on is right now.

I envy that. I envy that enjoyment of the present. I am always longing for the known past or worrying about the unknown future, the unattainable elements of life. How can one revel in the present? I am not sure. I continue to watch and listen to Tom as we traverse the snow-laden, concrete trails of the town. The answer comes in the smallest of moments. Tom stops in his forward motion and looks up at the stoplight. “Look Taylor,” he says, “this would make a beautiful picture that captures the essence of a small town’s winter night.” He was right. The road was covered with snow and only a handful of tire tracks created seams in winter’s blanket; slow and lazy snowflakes loft down from the heavens, as if those snowflakes were in no hurry; and the stoplight blinked red, illuminating the entire scene for only a flash of time. This was how to live in the present. Simply admire what is around you and love it for the time it is around. I smile at Tom both in thanks but also because he is talking about his ambitious love life. Maybe Tom does not have all the answers to life. “Come on Tom, let’s head back, tomorrow is another day.”

 

Originally Published in the January/February 2016 Issue.

Milk and Brownies by Erika Murdey

        The idea came to her out of pure desperation.
        Allison got home late one night (as she did nearly every night) from a long day at work to find her home a disaster. As if the police had executed a search warrant. Or someone in the mob had become convinced she had video evidence hidden away. Except this state of cleanliness was what she came home to every night. Ever since she’d started her residency. Every available surface covered in take-out containers, dishes, mail that really needed to be gone through, dirty clothes, dirty everything. She felt a weight drop on her the second she entered the door.
        If she had any reserves of energy left, she thought, she would do something about the mess. She would load the dishwasher, after first emptying it of the few clean dishes and putting those away. Laundry would be spinning in the washer, and the dryer. Mail would be sorted; the bulk of going to the recycling bin, which would also not be a towering heap of recyclables that would eventually end up dumped in the trash can instead of being taken to the recycling center.
        The weight that had fallen on her shoulders upon entering the house doubled as she considered taking a day off from working to clean the house, top to bottom; Such a task would kill her, she was sure. And she couldn’t take time off from her residency. She had to build her reputation at the hospital. She had to focus on what was important.
        She shoved the morning newspaper off of the couch, sat among the books and magazines and yesterday’s takeout boxes, and ate her chicken lo mein out of the carton with the wooden chopsticks that came with it. Allison wondered how much it would cost to pay someone, a cleaning service, bonded of course, to come in and make her house a place that did not crush her soul to come home to. She could imagine the look of horror and sorrow that would cross whatever-nice-person-the-agency-had-available’s face as he or she crossed the threshold and stepped into her home for the first time. How could you live like this? How long has it been like this? How did you let it get this bad? She would see the questions in the person’s eyes. He or she would be too polite to ask, of course, but would later talk about the house-from-hell that had been seen. And what if the person had ties to someone she knew? Were there confidentiality agreements for cleaning services?
        Still, she knew she could not face the judgment of this imagined cleaning service person, who would charge her triple the normal rate upon seeing both the house and her desperation. As she put the half-eaten container of lo mein in her refrigerator she spotted a mostly empty gallon of milk, two days past the expiration date. Allison remembered a fairy tale, the one about a shoemaker who needed help. Elves had come and made shoes for him. But how did he call them? Did he write a note to the elves on a slip of paper that he chucked down a well? Did he put a shoe in a tree? Or, wait, wasn’t there something about milk? Putting out a bowl of milk? That sounded familiar. She got a bowl out of the dishwasher, poured a small amount of milk into it, and set the bowl on the floor by her front door before going to sleep.
        She woke up to realize she had forgotten to turn on the alarm and had fifteen minutes to get ready and leave before she would inevitably be late. She scrambled to find her purse and keys and, finding those, threw open the front door. Something hit the wall and shattered.
        That damn bowl.
        She glanced at the havoc. Shards everywhere, milk dripping down the wall. Why the hell had she left the bowl by the door?
        Then she saw the note.
        It was a tiny piece of paper, stuck to the bottom of the door with a pin. She pulled it off of the pin and held the note to the light; she had to squint to make out the tiny handwriting. When she did she felt both elated and hurt.
        “You’ll have to do better than that. –B”
        Better than what? She ran to the fridge and sniffed the milk, then sipped it, then spat it out into the sink. “Shit.”
        The milk had gone sour.
        But it had worked! She had made contact with an elf!
That night she came home with a fresh gallon of milk. She got a fork and another bowl out of the dishwasher. She poured some milk into the bowl and set it by the door, then ate the pasta salad she’d gotten from the store deli counter and hurried to bed, feeling like a kid on Christmas morning.
        When she woke up to the alarm she sighed upon seeing the piles of dirty laundry still strewn on the floor. Had she imagined the note? She switched the alarm off and stumbled into the kitchen. It was just as messy as when she had gone to bed, but there was a small man standing on the counter. Her body felt numb.
        The tiny man stared at her. He had a squat figure, even for such a short creature, large brown eyes, and a bulbous nose. He wore tight black jeans, a fitted, faded t-shirt, and a scarf. His blond hair spiked into a hundred little points. She didn’t know what she had pictured. No, never mind, she did know what she had pictured– one of those smiling guys from the cookie commercials. Definitely something lankier, with pointier ears. This man was not that.
        “’Hello’ usually works,” he said.
        “Hello. Good morning. Who are you?”
        “You know who I am, or you wouldn’t have set the milk out for me and my friends.”
        “I thought an elf would look different–
        He held up a hand. “You must be joking, I’m a brownie—not an elf. “
        “What’s the difference?”
        The little man stared at her for a moment, then said, as if he hadn’t heard the question, “We have a problem.”
        “A problem? Is that why you didn’t clean?”
        “Of course.”
        She stared at him. She tried not to stare at him. She couldn’t. “What was the problem?”
        “You set milk out for us. Cow milk.”
        “What other kind is there?”
        He rolled his eyes. She pulled a chair up to the counter and sat in front of him. “You wouldn’t be so slow on the uptake if you weren’t all bogged down by the crap you’re eating.”
        “Crap?”
        “Yes. Crap. I didn’t clean your house but I looked in your fridge. When’s the last time you cleaned that thing out?”
        “I was hoping you would.”
        “You have to set out exactly what a brownie wants before said brownie will make your shoes or do your taxes or clean your house. Exactly.”
        “So what ‘exactly’ do you want?” she worried she had sounded sarcastic.
        “I can’t tell you. That’s not how it works.”
        “I don’t understand. What was wrong with the milk I set out? Oh shit, or was it supposed to be cream?”
        “Do you want to clog my arteries? Look– no. A brownie needs a lot of energy, right? And we did the cream thing for years, but we were dragging. Just dragging. So we did a little research on the internet. Did you know brownies didn’t always eat like that?”
        “I didn’t really know anything about brownies.”
        “Apparently. So, anyway, we went back to eating like our ancestors ate. You would not be-lieve how much more energy we have now!”
        Allison paused, then said, “You went paleo?!”
        “That’s it!”
        She wracked her brain to remember what she’d heard about the paleo diet. “So I put some almond milk or something out and you and your friends will clean the house?”
        The brownie put a finger to his lips and winked out of existence.
        When Allison came home that night she brought in a carton of almond milk. She grabbed the last clean bowl in the dishwasher. She thought about putting the remaining dishes away and starting a new load in the dishwasher, then laughed at herself. The brownies would take care of that for her! Instead, she poured the milk into the bowl and set it by the door, then hurried to bed.
                                                        ********
        She woke up when the alarm went off, and nearly cried when she saw the piles of dirty laundry on the floor. What had happened with the brownies?
        He stood on the counter in the kitchen again, wearing a button-up shirt and skinny jeans.
        “Didn’t you see? I put out the almond milk!”
        She heard him sigh. “You are not making this easy. Why did you buy that almond milk?”
        “Because it was on sale…”
        “Don’t you care about the Earth at all?”
        “What does that even mean?”
        The brownie said nothing, but stared at her.
        Allison rushed to the refrigerator and grabbed the carton of almond milk she had bought. The label confirmed that yes, this was almond milk. What did that have to do with the Earth? Oh crap.
        “It has to be organic, doesn’t it?”
        The brownie appeared to be extremely interested in a cobweb in the corner of the ceiling. Her face felt hot and she clenched her fists, then closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Would you like some organic almond milk, Mr. Brownie?”
        “It’s not a matter of ‘like.’ Would you like to flood your body with pesticides? Would you like to contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder? Would you like to pollute the Earth? If you’d take a moment to educate yourself–”
        “I–” Allison paused, breathed. “I’m sorry, Mr. Brownie. I’ve been very busy and I haven’t had time to learn what I should regarding—these things.”
        “I’ll say.” He smoothed his shirt. “You know, back in the fifteenth century brownies weren’t this patient.”
        “Of course. I’m sorry, Mr. Brownie.”
        “Don’t call me ‘Mr. Brownie,’” he said, and disappeared.
        She stormed into the living room, snatched a pillow from the couch, and screamed into it as hard as she could.
        That evening she went back to the store. She bought a carton of organic almond milk, the most expensive she could find. At home she looked in the dishwasher for another bowl, knowing she’d used the last. She had to hope though. No bowls in the cupboards either. If they want this damn milk so bad, she thought, they could at least wash a stinking bowl. She grabbed a coffee mug and filled it to the brim with the new almond milk, and set it on the counter.
        And she had tomorrow off! She would get to enjoy her clean house, maybe read. Stay in her pajamas till dinner, shower and put on clean pajamas.
        Allison lay on her bed, wondering how the brownies would change the sheets under her while she slept. She’d let them figure that out.
                                                        ***********
        When she opened her eyes she could not hold back a sob. The piles of dirty clothes. The wrinkled, smelly sheets. What could have gone wrong?
        The brownie waited in the kitchen, wearing a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and a tight knit shirt, paired with slacks. He walked up to the stack of dirty dishes in the sink and ran a finger across the edge of a plate before grimacing and rubbing his hands on a towel curled on the counter.
        “What do you want?” Allison cried.
        “Look, I can see you’re trying. And I appreciate it, the others appreciate it. But you need to give us what we want first, right? That’s just how contracts work. Brownies and humans have had contracts for centuries, and the human have always figured it out before.”
        “But there wasn’t almond milk in the fifteenth-or-whatever century,” she wailed.
        “I never said it had to be almond milk.”
        Allison grabbed the nearest thing to her, a glass, and hurled it across the room. Until she threw it, she was certain she was aiming for the brownie. He adjusted his glasses. “You know, my people have a reputation for mischievousness.”
        “What? What would you do? Mess the place up?”
        He smirked. “Good one. But we’re not confined to this house, you know. You work in a nice hospital, don’t you?”
        “You couldn’t.”
        “I don’t want to get all mobbish on you, but we could.”
        “Please, no, I’m sorry! I’m doing so well!”
        “Are you? If your home looks like this?”
        “That’s different. I can’t keep my house spotless and keep up on my rounds.”
        “Oh?”
        “Just please, please, tell me what you want.”
        He shook his head. “If this is too much for you, you can quit. No hard feelings. The other brownies and I will move on, find someone who can fulfill our needs–”
        “No! Are you kidding me? All I have time to do is work or study for my licensing exam! I haven’t gotten more than six hours sleep in a night in four years.” She looked at the floor for a moment. An ant crawled across her foot. “I’m so tired.”
        He gave her a look she couldn’t read; she wanted to see sympathy there. Then he vanished.
        Okay, she had to make decisions. That was what being a doctor was– making decision after decision. And she was good at that. She was. So now what? Do what the brownie had said? Give up? Spend her whole day off cleaning the house, enjoy it for a couple of days, a week, and then what? What would she do when it got messy again?
        Decision made. She went to the food co-op.

                                                        *************
        “Hi, I’m sorry, but I’m shopping for a friend. I think he’s paleo, or something. He’s very concerned about the environment. I need to find him a milk.”
        “A milk?” The girl asked. She had long tangled hair with two braids framing her face, studded with flowers. “Why don’t you ask him?”
        “I don’t want him to think he put me through any trouble,” Allison said carefully. “But I want to find him the most paleo-friendly, Earth friendly, no-possible-reason-to-reject-it milk that could possibly be purchased.”
        “Sure,” the girl said slowly. She regarded the shelves of milks, found a glass jug filled with a pearly white liquid. “This is hazelnut milk from a local organic farmer in a reusable jug. Just bring it back clean and we can refund the deposit on the bottle.”
        “That’ll do the trick?”
        “Sure,” she said, smiling. “I’ve met the farmer- he’s very active in preserving heirloom seeds and fighting GMOs.”
        “Sounds perfect.”
        The girl led Allison to the checkout counter, where a collection of fairy figurines beamed at her. She scowled. “Don’t you like fairies?” the girl asked, sounding scandalized.
        “Not fairies in particular. Some of the fairy folk are real jerks, though.”
        The girl tilted her head; a flower tumbled out of her hair. “I suppose you’re right. I mean, fairies and elves are good. But then you get those others, like hobgoblins and brownies. Those aren’t very nice.”
        “You know about brownies?”
        She nodded.
        Allison wanted to grab the girl by her tunic and shake everything she knew out of her. Instead, she said as calmly as she could manage, “I never heard much about brownies. Are those the ones that drink milk?”
        “Yes! They do chores if you give them milk.” Ha. “But they are very particular, and easily offended. Then they get nasty.”
        “How so?”
        “Well, they started out as these things called boggarts. Those were really mean. Played pranks, ruined crops, stole children. That sort of thing.”
        “What did they do with the children?”
        The girl shrugged. “Who knows? Probably ate them.”
        She handed the girl money for the jug of hazelnut milk and carried it to her car.
        Paleo brownies.
        But the brownie in her kitchen had said they wanted milk, hadn’t he? No, he never had. Just that they’d gone paleo. But he meant this, right? Plain old human paleo diet. What the cavemen would have eaten. If they’d had nuts and blenders.
        But what if he’d meant what paleo brownies would have eaten?
        On the drive home she pulled in to the park. A trio of children hanging from the monkey bars. Two boys taking turns down a slide. A lone girl on the swings, kicking her feet.
        Did she really want to do this? Shouldn’t she try the hazelnut milk? That must have been what the brownie meant, right? It was perfect, everything the most paleo paleo person could ask for. But person. Not brownie. She looked across the park, and saw a small boy kicking a ball by himself.
        But if the hazelnut milk didn’t work she would have no clean clothes to wear to the hospital tomorrow.
        And she was tired. So very tired.

Depth Song by Steven Vest

Nothing is real to the sea but the moon.
Seawater exerts its own pressure
piles onto itself
fathom upon fathom.

When I’m sailing, scratching the surface
I stand on the deck, shoot the stars
and cry out the latitudes.
Praying myself onto the charts.

At night the waves are a pulse.
Blood and seawater run together,
respond to the tides, the spin of the earth.
Chemically similar.

Storms tear at the surface
but cannot touch our depths.
Only the moon
pulls.

Published in the October 2015 Issue

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