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..:: CONTENTS ::..

   Volume V, Issue II

..:: POETRY ::..

..:: PROSE ::..
..:: OTHER ::..

..:: ETC ::..
   Contributor's Notes

..:: ARCHIVES ::..
   Volume I, Issue I
   Volume I, Issue II
   Volume II, Issue I
   Volume II, Issue II
   Volume III, Issue I
   Volume III, Issue II
   Volume IV, Issue I
   Volume IV, Issue II
   Volume V, Issue I


Len Kuntz


          It's not the only thing she possesses, this crust of bread in her hand, but it feels as if it is. The girl holds it like an apple or a snow globe needing to be shaken, like a magic cue ball filled with inky black liquid ready to grant blunt answers to your questions. She scrunches the bread and watches crumbs sprinkle her shoes with a dozen tawny-colored freckles. Her mother asks what's wrong with her, is she nuts? Her mother thinks she is, and her mother might be right.
          The girl is dizzy and confused most of the time.
          She has no name or she takes the name they give her if they want her to have one. She has been Amy, Mandy, Little Sue, Big Red, Tokyo Rose, Momma, Mrs. Schweitzer, Beth.
          The girl has exactly two mix-and-match outfits, but she has clean underwear: white with red lace and different sized lady bugs. She hates that pair because the insects sometimes come to life and crawl around her private parts and when she scratches she gets screamed at and made fun of or called crazy.
          Yes, now that she thinks of it, the girl is certain that she is insane.
          The girl is thin, bony. She can count her ribs without stretching or sucking in her belly because she has no belly.
          "All this talk of food is overrated," her mother says. "Same as television. Same as Obama."
          The girl's favorite part about this is watching the cars go by, imagining what the automobiles smell like inside, what the people are discussing and thinking, the song on the radio, or maybe it's a smart person talking about wars overseas. The inside of a car is like being inside a hut, a tent. You can tell secrets there, or ghost stories. You can snore if you want to because it'll only be the bears that hear.
          Usually there are three men a day. On occasion there are three at once. One time there was a line stretching around the alley and the girl did what she had to do but while she did it she looked at the column of paying customers, their faces eaten away by shame, their steaming eyes and sweaty mouths the only signal they were alive. The scene reminded her of a photograph she'd seen from olden days when it was in fashion to dress formal and wear hats, and in the picture she recalls that most of these men were looking for employment but some were merely seeking soup, sustenance, something warm to fill their bellies.
          She is slender and skinny. She wonders: If I can get thin enough, can I be soup?
          There is no business to be had on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so they go to see her mother's boyfriend, James who works at the store called Video & Pawn. She has to wait outside. She doesn't mind. It stinks of fresh vomit and baby diapers outside but it smells worse in Video & Pawn.
          The girl looks at the sky. It's as gray as a donkey, yet one disintegrating cloud limps along. She fixes it in her mind, adds a few appendages, and then the cloud becomes a kangaroo and it bounces away from here, on its way back to Australia or heaven.
          Inside the store a television show plays. The actress is her age only she's beautiful, so gorgeous and clean, with berry-colored lipstick and shimmering skin. But the actress wags her finger the same way the girl's mother does. The actress's mouth moves so quickly the girl thinks it must be a trick or fast motion. The actress has had it. She's fed up. Her boyfriend isn't good enough for her. She deserves better.
          The girl hears all this or imagines she does.
          The actress slaps the boy and shoves him down on the couch and runs out the door, slamming it so hard the screen shakes.
          The boy actor starts to cry.
          The girl has never seen a male person cry.
          She leans forward, and even though the glass is smudged and dusted with dirt and grime, she closes her eyes and presses her lips to the glass. She holds steady and strong. She's been kissed before, but she's never kissed.


//   Advance   //