Issue 79 — 

Sandra Kolankiewicz (ArLiJo#79)
Anne Levesque (ArLiJo#79)
Ron Morita (ArLiJo#79)
Katrina Ray-Saulis (ArLiJo#79)




Sandra Kolankiewicz

Featured on ArLiJo Issue No. 79.


In Between Lay Offs

As a result, among other things, the
catalogue reads sketchy. Even if they
might catch a mistake, most of them
are confused between page one and ten, for
each contradicts the other. The debate
is on, starting in the boardroom, stretching
out across divisions, more than trickling
down. Today each on his own will choose to
forgo the company picnic, pronouns
not having been changed in Human
Resources in time for the fiscal year.


Copyright ©2015 by Sandra Kolankiewicz.



User’s Lament


I would have paid more attention, stuck on
          repeat, dissatisfied but unable

to change, all my complaints lined up to be
          handed over one by one as soon as

the cash came out. I should have removed my
          shoes, massaged my feet instead, but just for

what? Instead, I activated widgets
          in the program, let loose a worm, Malware

of desire pretending to be other
          than itself—like the rest of us—most of

my flourishes useless as a blown egg,
          fragile, worthy only of display, my

accessories outdated sooner than
          usual and earlier than the norm.

Copyright ©2015 by Sandra Kolankiewicz.


Biography:
Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems and stories have appeared most recently in New World Writing, BlazeVox, Gargoyle, Fifth Wednesday, Prick of the Spindle, Per Contra, and Pif. Turning Inside Out won the Black River Prize at Black Lawrence Press. Finishing Line Press recently published The Way You Will Go.

 

 




Anne Lévesque

Featured on ArLiJo Issue No. 79


Black Magic Woman

Lucy opens her eyes to a low ceiling, spray-painted a dull blue with grey showing through. She's in the van. A couple houseflies buzz and knock against the ceiling. Buzz and knock, buzz and knock. As if they expect it to open up. Like the sky. The nylon skin of the sleeping bag is stuck to her arms and legs and midriff. She peels it off and, sitting up, sees that she is still wearing the shorts and t-shirt she had on yesterday. Beside her is Wendy’s empty sleeping bag, all bunched up.

They are at Mariposa. She and Wendy had spent yesterday walking around, listening to people singing and playing music, talking with people they didn't know. Eating a hotdog and talking with more people they didn't know. And then, somehow, one of them became attached to them. Like a wasp sometimes does in the summer, even when you run into the lake. A big hairy man, he had a ponytail and a short beard and he wore socks under his sandals. His name was Mark and he said things like Did you know that Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish? What’s Spanish, Lucy wondered. He was a Marxist.

I can’t stand Marxists, Wendy said to him, laughing. He was from Toronto but moving to Sudbury what-a-coincidence that's where they lived! He was going to teach sociology at Laurentian what-a-coincidence Wendy was taking sociology! (part-time) at Laurentian.

Mark and Wendy went into the beer tent but Lucy wasn’t allowed in she had to stand outside with some other children. One of them was a boy with a strange haircut he said it was a Mohawk. He did weird twisty things with his arms and people gave him quarters. After that they walked around some more and listened to music then the man took Wendy’s scarf and wrapped it around her waist and pulled her to him and they danced. Then he bought Lucy a Coke and a slice of pizza (Wendy had forgotten that Coke made her climb the walls). Later they sat with many people on the grass in front of the biggest stage. You weren’t supposed to drink beer except in the beer tent but Wendy had some in a thermos. The last thing she remembers is being cold.

She looks out the window. Next to the van is a white car painted with pale-blue stripes and gold stars. A man is asleep on the back seat. Beyond the painted car are more parked cars, and trucks and vans and a motorcycle. She sees a man with a garbage bag and a stick. He has short frizzy hair just like her grandmother’s and he is wearing a pair of brown corduroy overalls and no shirt underneath. He stops in front of the van and she sees him spear an empty bag of chips with the stick and put it in the garbage bag. He looks up and sees her. He grins. Lucy starts to cry.



The Marxist is having a potluck and Wendy is taking Lucy because there’s going to be another little girl there And a baby, won’t that be fun? She makes her Swedish Meatballs and on the way there she stops at the liquor store for a bottle of Mateus. The little girl Deirdre is only four but she and Lucy have lots of fun. They run-run-run from the kitchen where the adults are standing with their drinks talking talking talking The guyVs a sociopath, not even a functioning sociopath, and no one says anything because he’s the dean — through the dining-room where the table is laid with a thick royal blue blanket —Is that from Oaxaca?— past the stereo in the living-room —Sleepin on the Interstate, oh— (the needle on the record players jumps) —a wild, wild life— and back to the kitchen.

She’s a good match for him.

Who, Mrs T?

Laughter.

Are you talking about Teresita? Is that what you call her?

And a battle axe.

Laughing.

That really bugs me— Bruce, would you take Sophie? When a man is strong or decisive it’s always seen as positive. But if a woman displays the same traits she’s a battle-axe. She wears the pants.

And your point?

More laughing, then crying: Deirdre has fallen face to the floor. Her mother scoops her up into her arms. Sing-songs, as she leaves the kitchen I think someone wants attention... Lucy follows them into the living room and watches as Deirdre begins to suck on one of her mother’s titties! Deirdre’s father arrives with the baby on his shoulder. Something that looks like yogurt is coming out of her mouth.

On the stereo, a man is singing Sex and Sin, Sax and Violin.

Like the baby? he says to Lucy.

Lucy shrugs.

She just puked on your shirt, Deirdre’s mother says.

Could you take her? I have to have a piss.

I’m a little busy here.



The Marxist has spent all afternoon cooking something called Eggplant Parmajohn. Lucy pokes at the blob on her plate.

Try a little Wendy says. It’s like lasagne. It tastes as gross as it looks.

What do you think? Mark says to her. Do you like it?

Lucy shrugs.

Now that’s interesting. What don’t you like about it? Is it the eggplant?

Deirdre’s mother laughs: I guess you’ve never had kids.

You sure like those meatballs, though, Mark says. Look at her, she’s inhaling them.

That’s enough, Lucy. You’ll get sick. She lo-o-ves meat. Wendy says.

Deirdre, you didn’t have any of these yummy meatballs. Better have one before Lucy eats them all.

A girl after my own heart, the man sitting across the table says. He has long blonde hair.

Deirdre won’t eat meat unless it looks like a hot dog. And forget about eggplant. We’ve had to change our whole diet.

Do eggplants come from chickens? Lucy says at the same time as Wendy says, looking proud: She actually likes her steak rare.

Cara didn’t eat meat when I met her but that didn’t last long. Longhair says.

He got sick, the woman beside him says. We had to start eating meat.

That’s a common argument. But bogus. Mark says.

What do you mean, argument?

Lucy starts to slide down the front of the chair. Across the table Deirdre’s little blue eyes, watching her.

People always get defensive around vegetarians.

Her toes touch down.

I’m not being defensive. I need protein.

A dark forest, treed with legs. A bird swoops in: the scrchh-schrch-scrchh of fingernails on pantyhose. The music of Wendy’s bangles as her hand, flashing silver and turquoise, alights on her thigh. (Years later, hearing the tinkling of bangles on a Mogadishu street, Lucy will think, for a brief thrilling moment, that her mother is behind her.)

Next to Wendy’s black velour pants are the motorcycle man's jeans. He came in late, wearing a rust leather jacket and a kerchief around his neck, and her mother got a chair from the livingroom and made a place for him beside her. He has chin-length black hair and soft blue eyes. But no motorcycle, it’s winter.

It’s easy to get protein. You combine beans and rice. Bread and peanut butter. Cheese and—

Oh please. We’re hard-wired to eat meat. We would never have developed our brains if we were still chewing on roots. A meatball falls from the sky. Then another. Lucy crawls over, stuffs them into her mouth.

Except that in the meantime we’ve discovered fire.

Still, th—

No but I’ve thought about this. Eating meat is about power and domination. It’s about violence, which is central to capitalist social order—

Oh for—

—not eating meat is a rejection of that ethos. That’s what scares people.

Deirdre’s legs dangle down, land.

The game: Crawl along the forest floor batting the fringe of the royal blue tablecloth without touching any of the trees. The baby cries. Deirdre’s mother’s trees push back from the table, disappear. Black Magic Woman is playing on the stereo.

The Wendy trees and the motorcycle man trees are touching now.

I’m going out for a puff before dessert. If anyone wants to join me. (The Marxist.)

Is the dessert vegetarian? (Longhair.)

Laughter.

All the trees leave except Wendy’s and the motorcycle man. When Lucy crawls out she sees that their heads are close together. That Wendy has her big flirt on.

The Marxist was history.


Copyright © 2015 by Anne Lévesque.


Biography:
Anne Lévesque’s poetry, fiction and nonfiction have been published in Canadian and international journals and anthologies, most recently in Writing the Common (Gaspereau Press) and Understorey Magazine. She lives on the west coast of Cape Breton Island.
 

 





Ron Morita


Featured on ArLiJo Issue No. 79

The Bard


I first glimpsed the Queen while in London, inquiring about a worm known as Lord Giles. After contracting with me to entertain two score of drunken nobles in a castle that stank of sheep, he failed to pay and stole my lute. She was riding across the heath on a white horse, straw-colored hair streaming like a flame. I stood petrified as she and her colorfully dressed retinue disappeared into the trees.

My petition to the local sheriff had gone unanswered, so I wrote to Her Majesty about the worm and handed my petition to a foppish palace page. Lurking outside the gate a few days later in hope of some word, I spied the remains of a feast on some tables in the courtyard. I had the leg of some nameless fowl in my hand and its juices dripping in my beard, when I spied a lady standing in the portal. Her petite figure reminded me of a fairy with an ankle-length black velvet dress and shoulder-length blonde hair. Though a look of pride decorated her fair countenance and well-proportioned features, she lacked the haughty disdain prevalent among titled persons. Without the voluminous wig, she resembled a lady in waiting, and only the confident grace of her walk as she emerged from the shadows told me otherwise.

“A thousand pardons, Your Highness,” I said, dropping the leg in my haste to bow.

“Go on, goodman. We are finished here.”

As she turned to go, madness came upon me.

“Your Grace, I have the custom that if anyone does me a good turn, as you have in permitting me to stay, I will compose a ballad in their honor.”

“Are you a writer, like Will Shakespeare?”

“A simple bard, My Lady. If you will allow me a moment to collect my thoughts, I shall begin.”

“Send it to Elizabeth, at the palace.”

As she started off, I was drawn to her like a butterfly enamored of the candle’s dancing light. Suddenly realizing I was fortunate to have my head still attached to my neck, I returned to the leg. That afternoon the ballad poured out of me. After giving my lyrics to the page, I haunted the palace grounds. The next day some foul-smelling noble carried me off in his carriage and threw me in the Thames with a warning never to let him see me again.

I made a living as a juggler, but without an instrument or mummer’s costume I remained penurious. Weeks later, hungry for a morsel, I slipped into the courtyard. The tables were gone. I was about to depart when I spied black velvet in an alcove, not a yard from my hand.

“Good day, Your Ladyship.” She drew back a bit, despite my warm smile. ”I am only a poor bard, looking for his first meal of the day.”

The area around her eyes was dark, giving a forbidding aspect, and she neither smiled nor spoke. It may have been a trick of the light, but up close she looked ten years older. She had the lost, faraway expression I had seen on a young soldier standing watch in the rain. I wanted to ease her loneliness, if only for the minute or two before the guard ran me through. After standing with my mouth open for what seemed an eternity, I fled.

For days I wandered the streets in search of festivals, feasts and fairs to entertain. In that capacity I had the privilege of seeing her thrice more. She appeared preoccupied, staring into the distance. The first snows fell yesterday, and I lacked the coin for lodgings. Though it was not on my way, I stole into the palace courtyard and ran my fingers over the cold stones of the alcove before starting the long journey home.


Copyright © 2015 by Ron Morita.
Biography:
After growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Ron Morita studied neurophysiology at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute (M.S. in physiology) because so much of what we consider ourselves to be is in the brain. Finding himself more practical than theoretical, he earned a Masters in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve and became an electrical engineer. His short fiction has appeared in The Chamber Four Literary Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Red Earth Review, Star 82 Review, Penduline Literary Magazine, Cigale Literary Magazine, Sassafras Literary Magazine, and Empty Sink Publishing.
 

 






Katrina Ray-Saulis

Featured in ArLiJo No. 79



Degenerate Island


There were diamonds floating in the water above Gladys. The circle of sunlight was the loveliest thing she had seen in her short life. Even in her panic, as her lungs filled with water and her tiny arms stopped flailing, she saw beauty.

The diamonds were beginning to fade to black when she felt her coveralls pulled up, water moving past her face. She was being lifted out of the ocean. The diamonds were growing brighter and brighter until she broke the surface and she had to squint. Hands grasped her face, rolled her over. She spewed water and silt to the sand. She could see a blurred yellow flower in the dirt, drowning in her bile.

He had a mouthful of sunflower seeds, and as he stood over her, he spit them one by one into the coarse sand around her.

Cough it up, honey, the man said. You don’t wanna be drinking saltwater. He reached down and patted her lightly on the back. His sun-worn hands were stippled with scars from fish hooks and lobster traps. Once she stopped coughing, he sat her up and offered her a sip of fresh water from a metal can. The water felt like it was carrying shards of glass down her throat, but the pain was soothing.

My name is Charles, he said. That’s my house right there. The house perched just above the rocks. Wooden lobster traps were piled up around the yard, waiting to be dropped into the cold Atlantic. The girl didn’t answer at first but when she saw his wife calmly digging at the dirt in a small garden patch she nodded. The woman's round rear end reminded her of her aunt and anyone that was like Aunt Rosie couldn't be all bad. Well come on then, we’ll get something warm to soothe your throat after all that brine.

He placed one hand around her bone-thin elbow and guided her toward the rocks. She pulled her arm from his hand politely when they reached the rocks and climbed up behind him. She was careful to place her bare feet right behind where he placed each large L.L. Bean boot.

Christina, put some broth on the stove, he called out.

I will not. What is that? What is she doing here? The woman stood from the garden, a look of disgust on her aged face. Her arms bulged out of her sleeves, fat rolling over her elbows. She wiped dripping sweat from her forehead.

Found this little salmon floundering in the waves down there, Charles said.

Where did it come from? Christina said.

I expect we can find out after we’ve warmed her up, don’t you?

Christina turned toward the house. She mumbled something that sounded like,
Probly one of them island niggas, but Charles smiled at Christina and headed toward the door so Gladys followed. Charles settled her on a chair by the fireplace and wrapped an afghan around her shoulders. Christina scooped some broth from a giant pot and put it into a cup. It was cold and Charles took it from her and warmed it in a smaller pot before pouring it again into the bowl. When he handed it to the girl she smiled. She wasn’t sure whether she was supposed to drink it or say thank you. She knew rules were different on the mainland, but having only been off the island twice before she didn't know exactly what they were.

Don’t you have manners? Christina said gruffly. Polite children are grateful for food handed them.

Shush now, Christina, the girl almost drowned. Manners don’t matter right now.

If she was any kind of civilized child it wouldn’t matter if she almost drowned, Christina said. Charles waved a hand toward Christina dismissing her comments.

What’s your name honey? Charles asked, kneeling in front of the shivering girl. She answered in such a whisper he had to ask her to repeat herself.

Gladys.

Well it's very nice to meet you, Charles said, shaking her tiny hand in his oversized mitt.

Where you from?

I live on the island.

Which island, girl? Christina shouted in a manner that made both Charles and Gladys jump.

Christina, please, Charles begged.

Well she’s probably one of those mutts from that nigga’ island, Charles! You want to invite that here? Goddam beggas.

She’s a child, Christina. It ain’t her fault either way. Now you either go away or you treat her like a guest. Christina hesitated a moment before storming back out to her garden, making sure to knock over a broom on the way out, the handle bouncing against Charles's bent knee. Charles cringed.

Don’t listen to her, Charles said kindly. Gladys was tense but his dark eyes had warmth to them, so she calmed a little. Now, do you know the name of your island?

Doesn’t matter now, Gladys said. It’s not home anymore.

What do you mean?

That man from Augusta, the govnah? He says Malaga Island ain't our home. Aunt Rosie said he has that right and Uncle Bobo said he don’t. But either way it don’t matter cause everyone is gone.

And where are your aunt and uncle?

Gladys shrugged. Her throat was still sore from coughing and she was afraid if she answered the question out loud she would burst into tears and the woman who looked like Aunt Rosie but was nothing like Aunt Rosie would probably call her more names for that.

Well you stay here with me and we’ll figure out where you can go, then, Charles said.

She doesn’t want me, Gladys pointed to the door.

Now don’t you listen to anything she says, okay? Most times when someone is mean it’s because they are scared. You understand that? Gladys nodded slowly. That made sense because she heard Uncle Bobo say that the townspeople were scared because of their rich tourists and that’s why they were mean to the islanders. But she wasn’t scary so she didn’t think Christina should be scared of her.

What’s she scared of?

Charles hesitated. You think you’re up for taking a walk with me?

Gladys nodded. She held her chin high enough to say she was strong, but not so high to be obstinate, as they walked past Christina and her garden. Charles and Gladys walked slowly, making their way around the neighborhood. Gladys was pleased to realize she was on an island, even if it wasn’t her own.

What’s this place called?

This is Orr’s Island, Charles said. Christina and I moved here long before you were ever born. There were only a few fishing cabins here then.

As they walked Gladys grazed. Kind of like a baby moose, Charles thought. Or a turkey. She pulled a few berries off of a blueberry bush, picked a small periwinkle off the beach and sucked out the meat, swallowing it whole. Charles smiled at her

What? she asked.

Just thinking how my prim and proper niece up in Bangor would react to a girl sucking a periwinkle from its shell, he said.

Is it bad? she suddenly felt embarrassed. Perhaps this was an island thing she shouldn’t do around these folks.

Eat whatever you want, girl. I don’t think its bad. That’s why God put ’em here for ya. Charles smiled and Gladys pulled another periwinkle from a rock. Gladys, what about your parents?

Died long ago. They were buried on the island. Charles’ eyes narrowed.

So your aunt and uncle take care of you?

The whole island takes care of me, she said. Gladys picked up a small shell and sucked the snail out of it with a pop and a slurp. I’m glad you found me. I wasn’t trying to drown. I slipped on those rocks.

It’d be pretty foolish to try to drown and you don’t seem foolish to me.

No, sir. I am not.

You want dinner? Or did you fill up on those sea creatures and blueberries?

Gladys smiled and followed him back to the house. Christina didn’t speak to her during dinner, and she stormed off to bed without response when Charles asked her to pull out a few blankets for Gladys. Charles smiled at Gladys and pulled out two blankets on his own.

What do I do tomorrow? Gladys asked.

I’m going to teach you to be a lobsterman, Charles said.

Gladys nodded.

~*~

Charles took Gladys out on the lobster boat the next day. He taught her to fill bait bags and how to tie them into the lobster traps. He taught her about the parts of the cage. There was the kitchen where the lobsters ate and the living room where they slept and waited for him to pull them up out of the water. Gladys laughed when he pulled a blue lobster from a trap. She had never seen one so oddly colored before.

When they brought their catch to the dock and weighed it out for the man who worked there Gladys got some curious looks.

Who’s this? a man with a long beard and a knit asked Charles.

My new captain, Charles joked.

Bad luck having a girl on a boat, the man answered.

No worse luck than having Christina for a wife, another man called across the dock. Charles laughed and winked at Gladys.

Didn’t seem to give me bad luck today, Charles said, pocketing his payment for the day’s catch and smiling at Gladys.

Charles and Gladys walked the rocks up toward the house in thoughtful silence.

Is it bad luck to have me on the boat? Gladys asked.

Got the biggest catch so far this summer today, Charles said, in lieu of an answer. Gladys skipped a few steps.

They don’t like Christina much, huh?

Christina is rough around the edges, Charles said. She’s good on the inside, though. Just takes a bit to get there. Charles smiled as he watched Gladys take this in, and then the corners of her mouth started to turn up. What is so funny?

Christina is like a lobster! Gladys squealed. Imagine if she had claws! And feelers! She put two fingers up on her forehead like tentacles. Her white teeth and bright eyes sparkled in the dark frame of her face. Charles started laughing with her.

Why are you nice to me? Gladys said. Aunt Rosie told me people wouldn’t be nice to me.

I’m afraid your aunt may have been right. Some won’t be nice. Some will, though. There are good people around here.

Why are you nice?

Charles shrugged. I don’t see what makes us all that different, I guess.

~*~

Gladys, come back here, Charles said, as the house came into view. The girl backed right into him, following his gaze to the men on the front porch.

Who are they? she asked.

No one good. If they ask, you’re my daughter, Charles said, taking her small hand in his own.

Lying is bad, she said.

I agree. But in this case it’s important, okay? Charles said. Gladys nodded and together they marched up to the front steps.

Mornin’ Charles, one of the men said.

Officer, Charles responded, not letting go of Gladys’s hand.

That’s the girl, Christina said, as though it wouldn’t be obvious.

Where’d you find her now, Charles? the officer said.

What’s it to you?

I am supposed to return her to her parents, the officer said.

Child, you got parents? Charles asked Gladys.

Gladys nodded slowly and Charles smiled at her. Who is your parents? Charles asked.

You’re my daddy, she said.

The officer started to chuckle. He’s your daddy? Who you kiddin’? but Gladys just nodded, her dark hair stiff against her head.

She’s my daughter, officer.

Christina gasped. We been married for fifteen years. If she’s your daughter and I am not her mother than you are an adulterer.

Call it what you like, Christina, but this is my daughter. Charles said.

I’ve lived on this island longer than you have, Charles. I know none of this is true, the officer said.

Prove it, Charles said, the threat loud in his expression. Gladys hid half-way behind him. I had an affair, I had this child. Her mother has since passed and she is my responsibility now.

I’ll be looking into it, the officer said.

You won’t find any records. Burned in a fire.

The officer’s mouth turned up at the edges. You know what I did last month, Charles?

What’s that?

I had the unpleasant experience of helping to transport some unfortunate souls to a home in New Gloucester. Folks didn't deserve it. From an island off the coast of Phippsburg. I imagine the world could use more kind souls like yours, Charles. He tipped his hat at Charles and turned to go.

That’s it? Christina said.

Ma’am, unless she has parents looking for her I don’t suppose I can truly prove he is lying, can I?

You could, Christina said. If you wanted to.

Yeah, perhaps, the officer said. And with that he left.

Christina stormed into the house and began banging pots at the kitchen stove. Charles, what are you thinking?

Why would you go to them, Christina? Do you know where they would take her?

And they should! She’s not like us, Charles.

And why not, cause she’s colored different? You haven’t been to a city, Christina. Not a real one. You’re only scared cause you don’t know colored folks.

Oh, so since you spent time in Boston and New York you know better than me?

I guess on this I do, Charles said. He gestured toward Gladys still standing on the porch, afraid to cross the thresh hold into the kitchen. She deserves kindness like anyone else. Everyone on that island did. It isn’t right what the governor is doing out there. Her parent’s bodies weren't even allowed to stay there. They relocated their friggen graves, Christina. It’s sick.

The governor is doing a kindness to the towns nearby.

He’s trying to earn votes and you know it. This young girl, barely a decade old, lost everything cause of him. And you're gonna hand her over to people who will put her in a hospital for the insane? Deem her feeble-minded just cause she had the unlucky experience of being born in that skin?

What business is it of ours? Christina hollered back.

Charles pulled his big boot off his foot. From inside he retrieved a picture and shoved it into his wife’s hand. The sepia-toned photograph showed a young black woman, her hair in a tight bun and a small pearl on a ribbon around her neck.

Who’s this? Christina asked.

Lucille. The woman I loved before you, Charles answered. And she had skin the same color as this girl, here. Christina opened and shut her mouth twice and Charles took advantage of the rare moment of silence and kept talking. Her daddy wouldn’t let her marry a white man, but if he woulda she’d be my wife.

You were going to marry a negro? Christina spat.

If I could have, yes. But she didn’t want to lose her family and I couldn’t blame her. She had the kindest personality. Cared for everything and everyone. We were walking the street in Portland one night and she had just told me she was moving back to Boston. We saw you, Christina, sitting on a bench down by Exchange Street and she pointed to you. She told me to marry a girl like you, someone who could give me children and I could give my name to. So after she left for Boston I hung out around there until you came back to the bench. And I did what she asked.

You never told me anything about her before, Christina said, her face flush with anger. She turned to leave and Charles stopped her. Gladys shrunk back into a wall.

Christina, I grew to love you. And we built a good home here and a good life. Right?

Based on what, though? Christina asked.

Well, from what I can see, based on the truest of selfless loves. Lucille loved me so much she wanted a life for me she couldn’t give me. Charles slipped an arm around his wife’s waist. So instead she gave me you.

Christina looked at her husband and Gladys could see her eyes soften. In her relief she tried not to laugh as she pictured Christina with claws again. Then Christina looked at her. And this girl here? I’m supposed to just be okay with her being here?

She’s a child, Christina.

I guess since I can’t give you a child you went and found one like this Lucille? Christina said.

No, we were blessed with this child who almost drowned in our front yard. And she needs us. I give you everything you want, Christina. Give me this.

Christina looked between Charles and Gladys. Gladys was holding her breath and didn’t even know it until it took so long for Christina to make up her mind that her head started to swim. Christina turned to the stove. She stirred whatever was brewing in the big pot and pulled three bowls off the sideboard. She handed them to Gladys and said, Set the table, child. And go wash up before we eat. You smell as bad of bait fish as your father here and I don't need any rotten fish smelling folks at this dinner table.


Copyright © 2015 by Katrina Ray-Saulis.



Biography:
Katrina Ray-Saulis was born in Portland, Maine. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Her senior project was a collection of Maine-based historical fiction, including Degenerate Island. She lives with her wife and fellow writer in a Southern Maine apartment much too small for their book collection. She has previously been published in Big Pulp Magazine, Lalitamba Lit Magazine, Extract(s) and Haunted Waters Press.​