Don't forget: submissions for our Harvard Square anthology are due on September 18th. Click here for more information. We look forward to reading your work.
This week we're excited to feature a story by Edmond Caldwell. Edmond writes fiction and drama and lives in Cleveland Circle, which he believes provided the setting for a deleted canto of Dante's Inferno. His work has appeared in Word Riot, 3:AM Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere, and his short play, "The Liquidation of the Cohn Estate," was produced in the 2009 Boston Theater Marathon. You can read his blog at http://thechagallposition.blogspot.com/
Steve and Marsha had just come in from picking blueberries. It was a good haul—“three bags full,” said Marsha in the exact rhythm of the line from the “Baa Baa Black Sheep” nursery rhyme, with just a hint of ba-a-a in her voice.
“But we weren’t gathering wool!” said Steve. He decided that if he weren’t gay, Marsha would be just his type. Steve had filled one paper sack with blueberries, Marsha another, which left the origins of the third full sack unaccounted for. And yet there it was, on the counter in front of them, brimming with dusky berries, an empirical fact. “And picturesque, too!” said Marsha, wielding the digital camera. She decided that if she were not a lab tech she would be a photographer or a yoga instructor—or both, probably, because starting-out photographers still needed a day job. “Don’t quit your day job!” one of them quipped. Steve? Marsha? It doesn’t matter when this kind of harmony reigns. Such considerations go by the wayside. From this distance the covering of brambles on the hillsides made their slopes appear smoother than they really were; the surface underneath was like ski slaloms. “Or like burrows.” “Like an extensive network of burrows.” “Not a single animal, but a tribe.” “Tribe’s not the right word.” “Do they eat the berries, too?” “The birds eat the berries.” “Black birds—four and twenty!” “But not black sheep!” Now the last sun was slanting through the broad kitchen windows. Out over the deck you could see the dunes and the ocean in one direction and the deceptively smooth-looking hills covered with blueberry brambles in the other. The sun slanted into the room and lit up a shelf with pewter and scrimshaw and other items of that hallowed idiom. On overcast days the sea sometimes looked like pewter and the foam on the waves like scrimshaw—blessed moment when inside and outside rhyme! But a person could get lost in the narrow winding paths between the brambles. Doug, for instance. “Marsha?” he called. “Steve?” Then he tripped. Then he saw the shape. In another few minutes the sun would be below the hills, but inside there would be fresh lobster and corn on the cob, and blueberry pie for desert. “Cobbler!” “Pie!” “Cobbler!” “Pie!” “Who’s the baker here, anyway?” “Fie! You win.” “You’re the candlestick maker—go start the fire.” Steve knew that life would be easier if he could just stop falling in love with straight guys. Marsha thought that life would be easier if she were a gay man loved by Steve. “Fee, fie, fo, fum.” What was it about that third bag of berries? Was it asking to have its picture taken again, posing with the other two bags? Or a solo shot, a portrait? But the sun was down now and in the artificial light the bag was not at all picturesque. Maybe it was even time to delete certain pictures in the digital camera. “We should have had baskets.” “Alas.” “Lined with pieces of cloth—gingham.” “Alack.” “No—tough titty! Tough titty said the kitty, when the milk ran dry!” “Went dry.” “Ran!” “Went!” “Ran!” “A-tisket!” “A-tasket!” People were always underestimating the power of dreams to make things happen. In some places on the hillsides the slaloms dipped so low that the tops of the brambles went over your head, like being in the trough of high waves. Footfalls made only a whisper on the sandy soil, so who knows what might surprise you coming round the bend. You might come upon a lone bag of berries on the path. “I hate my job.” “I hate mine too.” “You always said you loved your job.” “I do! I love it and I hate it!” “I just hate mine.” “The pie was scrumptious, though.” “Cobbler!” “You think I should make shoes?” “Ooh, bad one.” They were halfway through their second bottle—“a regional vintage.” The moon had come up over the dunes. It made the winding paths between the brambles look like old ivory. Inside it was time for saying the shapes you saw in the fire. “A fire truck.” “That’s not very imaginative.” “OK, a bag of blueberries.” Then it was time for shadow animals on the wall. “What’s this?” “Bunny rabbit.” “And this?” “Dunno—something that eats bunny rabbits?” “You know, I don’t even miss TV.” Outside, Doug decided not to wait for the bear to come to him.