“CHOOSE,” LARB Lit
You open the gate to the courtyard. Young girls and boys stand around in groups. The jungle gym stands empty above its woodchips. The tire swing, on its three chains, rotates. A voice gently speaks: “Some of the girls on the playground are good, and some are evil. Some wear lip gloss, some do not. Which group will you choose to hang out with?”
A girl wearing red Guess jeans with a zipper at the ankles moves her lips at you. She wears lip gloss. She looks as if she is saying the word PEACH.
If you think the girls with lip gloss are the GOOD ones, turn to page 11.
If you think the girls with the lip gloss are the EVIL ones, turn to page 32.
“Silver Lining Payback has made the rounds of the indie festivals, inexplicably winning prizes in Toronto and Cannes. A thick silence surrounds its origins. Online evidence suggests crowd sourced funding strategies, but dogged investigation turned up no promotional materials whatsoever and no names of actual producers. This critic, at least, remains deeply puzzled.”
“Female Lead,” The Santa Monica Review
COLD OPEN on her hands, steady hands, as she slices open a chest cavity. The blood rises in a thin, red ribbon. It is strangely beautiful.
Our heroine is a surgeon. She is thin. She looks good in her scrubs.
Maybe she is too thin. Poor thing. When she wears street clothes, the ends of her sleeves fall down past her thumbs, like a girl in her boyfriend’s sweatshirt. She is vulnerable. But tough.
Our heroine is lovely. No–
…she it hot. Model hot. When she walks away, the camera lingers on her ass. And she walks away often, especially from men who lust after her.
She grew up an orphan. No, not an orphan–
…a motherless child. She grew up a motherless child, in the South. She has a drawl like thick honey. Men flock to it like bees. But she is broken inside.
Her daddy is a cop. No, not a cop–
…no longer a cop…
“Counting,” The Green Mountains Review.
He sits out on the porch for most of the day. He sits very still. He looks out at the road cut into the sagebrush and at the river beyond and at the sandstone cliffs of this ravine beyond that. The road is dirt, rutted with old tracks. There is chokeberry beneath the thick stands of salt cedars, and then beyond that, the chattering water of Whiskey Creek. I come up from behind him. I put my hand on his shoulder, from the side, since I can’t reach over the top of his high-backed rocking chair. He does not flinch or move or seem to notice me at all.
On the way in here, his father and I stopped at the top of the cliff, looking down. Below me, the bend in the river was wide and tense, stretched like a rubber band bent around the land. I thought: this will be easy. I will walk up to the cabin and I will walk in like nothing has happened, like he has never been gone and we are not different. I thought: this will be easy, I will turn around and say I have to go back and he will never know I was here. I thought: his father is waiting for me to get back in the car, now.
At the cabin, I sit in a rocking chair and think about leaving.