All tagged keit osadchuk

The Candle Farmers

We grew candles on our farm. It was always night. I carried embers in a copper bucket and trailed behind my mother. Under the candlelight, the ground was warm. I tucked my plait down the back of my dress. We walked narrow pathways through fields of candles. The glow hurt my eyes, so I looked up at the darkness and star blink. When we reached the empty plain, we dug holes and planted the embers. I didn’t know if my fingers were black with dirt or soot. 

A Death Threat from the Hair Club for Men

Of course the after photos show us smiling in terror. We all know someone who tried to take the hair and run. Someone weak. Someone with a family they left behind when they turned up parsed in garbage bags in the trunk of their car, or someone who didn’t turn up at all.

The Migrating Words

Every year, we watched the words leave. Lana stood on the roof edge. I leaned against the chimney; the bricks were like tree scratch. We didn’t have much talking left. She said something and pointed to a bit of sky I couldn’t see. I inched closer, my feet wobbling on the roof tiles. She gripped my arm. I gazed over the town. We saw the words rise. 

Nothing But Monsters

I was passing through Fort Dick with a truckload of swine for slaughter, when I made a stop at a roadside diner, Lou’s Steak Shack or something. It wasn’t that long since quarantine, and I was still savoring every last breath of open air, like sea in those parts, settling on the skin.

Adult Daughters of Hybrid Murderesses

We’re all ashamed of our mothers in this place. Mine’s the one chomping on fresh crickets, which isn’t nearly as bad as the things she did when I was in middle school, like tearing the wings off Lauren Fontaine’s yellow swallowtail costume at the science fair.

Short Stories

When I was five my best friend Ruben Cabrera showed me the gun belonging to his big brother, a guy from an up-and-coming gang in the neighborhood that was gaining notoriety for its acts of violence against older, bigger gangs. In the toolshed, with the door cracked just enough for sunlight to slide in, Ruben brought the black gun up so that it seemed to hover over my nose and behind it in the dark an excited voice fired out, Cool, huh?

Operation Desert Storm

Fadel was the brother who stayed the longest, the one who called my grandma “Mom.” He wore strong, spicy cologne, the kind that chokes and stings, lingers long after he has left the room. My mom told me that when he lived with them, he got a brand new car every six months and threw away his undershirts after he had worn them just once. He was a good friend to my dad, Curtis, the dad who I never saw.

Listless

The boy awoke, listlessly, without stirring; a mere blinking of his eyes until they agreed to remain open and seeing. He lay still with his head on the pillow, his dreams drifting up and away in locks of vapor and mist. The room was dark. The pale early morning light seeped in from behind the shut blue curtains, falling in rays and shafts about the bed. The boy watched the tiny dust particles drifting lazily in the light, unconcerned with whatever his business was.

Secret Message

After I take the secret message from the man at the door, the house becomes rife with codes. I pause at the refrigerator and note the conspiratorial way that Rebecca’s hand wraps around Henry’s shoulder in one of the photographs, as if on the verge of absconding. Her lips are pursed in the manner of a duck. It’s startling—unfair—that I remember her name, that this incidental character has blotted out such a significant portion of this photo, persisted in making her presence known across these years. 

Listerine

Grandma has been sober twelve years, we think. She says it’s ‘cause family fucks her up plenty. She says that from her seat by the window—by the action, she calls it. As police cars and packs of teens pass, she comments on them, even when she’s alone, like she is the voice in their heads. We don't listen to Grandma too much because she already is the voice in our heads, from the second we are born. It is a real something to find your consciousness in the living room every day, decomposing, complaining about the orange juice.

The Sea Urchin

Grandmother kept a diver’s knife strapped to her thigh. Daily, before the night could fray into dawn, she dived half a mile from shore, inhaling three minutes of air at a time. All morning she pried abalone and sea urchins from slick rock. 

Inflammation

Marjorie woke that day with a distinct pain in her right ear—it was someone talking about her—isn’t that what they said? Your ears ring when someone is talking about you? But this wasn’t a ringing—it was a pain, deep. It seemed to radiate from her inner ear to the back of her throat and into the small glands of her neck.