Lost, Studied Devised
by Joshua Farley
As I wandered out my backdoor with a freshly-baked apple pie at my disposal I began to grow confused, weary of the world deforming around me, of the splashes of color spurred through the never-ending vortex of space and time. The haziness of the environment drew upon my inner forces, rendering my organs aware of the fragile and delicate nature of all things, tangible and intangible, stimulating the limits of my very mind. Upon the realization of my condition, as well as the consistent and dynamic alterations of the reality surrounding my being, I felt my eyes amplify for the first time. It was a novel experience, one that cannot properly be reproduced or recollected on paper, but I will attempt to recount it to the greatest detail as my mind permits. In spite of the perceptive feeling and endless flow of matter clouding my psyche at the time of my initial condition, I remained utterly and generously calm.
I consumed another puff of my smoldering cigarette, forcing the smoke into my empty lungs and breathing out the matter inadvertently manipulated by the symbiotic mechanisms of my body, leaving the particles forever divorced and wisped off into the wind to lead the life of loneliness and perplexity that ingrains each and every one of us. I inhaled the remaining crumbs of Grandma’s delicious, subtly-baked, apple pie, and proceeded to delve deeper into the wasteland of my vision.
Two Soups for Table Eight
by Amanda Pampuro
If you’ve ever flown through Detroit, you might have passed by the restaurant. Maybe you even ate there, at the steakhouse where Jean Démon mopped floors for a week under the alias John.
Beyond the plate glass windows, four lanes of moving sidewalk stretched like highway between plane gates and cell-phone charging stations. Under surgical lamps, poor people ate with their food on their knees and took turns falling asleep upright. In pajamas and in business suits, lone travelers wandered from the neck-pillow kiosk to the bookstore, where the latest pyramid-stacked bestseller slowly sold out.
Jean lined his pockets with the small coins experienced servers turned their noses on. This little drum beat against the burlap-topped table, as he wiped crumbs from the corners. He played the part, moving from table to table without a glance at any of the sunsets on the walls. Jean worked well in the air of artificial evening, but he never grew accustomed to the country tunes. He worried the music would remain with him throughout his days but singing along was part of the gig. The soundtrack of whiskey and women followed him into the kitchen where he scrapped congealed ketchup out of saucers.
Mitch heard the tire blow out and the car skid to a halt on the loose gravel track. He let the water pail fall back into the well and loped down the path to the edge of his property. Out on the horizon, he could see the glow and the smoke. One thing at a time, he told himself, one thing at a time. He pulled the gate open and went out to where the car had stopped at the side of the road.
A young girl, she did not look old enough to drive, got out of the car and dusted herself off. He didn’t recognise her. She had left it late to escape the wildfire racing towards them. Mitch was choosing to believe the fire would veer away from him and from his home, but the girl should have been long gone from here.
“You okay?” Mitch asked her.
“Yeah,” she said. She stuck out her hand, “I’m Bridget.”
He shook her hand with a no-nonsense single pump. “Mitch,” he said.
She glanced over her shoulder, then turned back to him, frowning. “I need to get out of here,” she said, “and so do you.”
He could smell the smoke in the air. “Not me,” he said. He looked at the blown tire. “You got a jack and a spare? And a wrench?”
“Gods, I hope so.” She went to the trunk of the car and opened it up.