The Young Writer

Amber beams of late afternoon sun split the venetian blinds. The professor sat in silhouette on the other side of a massive desk.

I envy you your easy solutions, the professor began. Just like we all envy addicts who have a single solution to every problem. But for once I’d like to see you write something without… all the blood. This violence is a crutch for you.

The student stared back at him.

For example, try this: A story where two characters have a conversation and no one dies, no one gets impaled, no limbs are severed. The professor lifted an old-fashioned letter opener from his desk and put it away in a drawer, turning a key to lock it. He went on: Try a story with no one getting disemboweled. Just people talking. The student’s eyes became vacuous. The professor couldn’t determine what exactly he was looking at, if anything. Hey. What’s going on in there? he asked, tapping his temple. Continue reading


Dorothy lay alone in bed, thinking only of him. She thought of him in the shower as she washed, she thought of him when she ate cakes. When she looked at postcards in the art book store she thought of which one she might send him. She knew she’d made a big mistake when she’d let him go.

That was how Den imagined it, a month after her final text to him.

But instead Dorothy lay on a slab of soapstone, naked. An evening mist rose from the dewy grasses below, back-lit by the red of the setting sun. The fingers of her right hand rested lightly on a sharpened dagger. At midnight she rose, eyes unseeing, tip-toeing forward like a weightless marionette. Following the gleaming point of her silver dagger down a gravel path to the tennis court behind Den’s house. Soon she was up on his balcony, white like chalk outside his floor-to-ceiling window. Then she was in his bed, hardly a ruffle in the covers, waiting for him to come back from washing the stage makeup off his face, waiting for him until he finally slid in beside her and turned off the light, unknowing. Unknowing until cardiac arrest and a gallon of blood geysered up from an open chest wound that had a silver knife handle sticking out of it. Continue reading

Coral Saint

Clemens stood on the dock, a slumped silhouette with a fisherman’s hat under a million stars. He watched as the boys got back to the beach, dragging their paddleboards up and out of the water. He stood without speaking or moving as they talked and laughed. He met them up by their pickup. You find her? he asked.

Jet stepped back. Where’d you come from?

Find who? asked Wen.

Isabelle. The Coral Saint. My daughter. Clemens’ face was in shadow under his hat but his eye glinted.

Coral Saint? I have no idea what you’re talking about, sir, said Jet.

Clemens stood as they wrapped towels around their waists to change out of their wetsuits. When they’d pulled on their dry clothes and the boards were loaded up they got into the pickup truck. Clemens got closer to the driver’s side. You could give me a ride to town, he said.

We ain’t going to town, said Wen. We’re headed to Horse’s.

You can drop me there.

If you’re heading to town that’s not even the right direction, said Wen.

From Horse’s I can get another ride, Clemens said.

There’s no space in the cab, said Wen. I’m sorry, bro. We’ll come back for ya! he laughed. Clemens made a whimpering sound, almost like a dog.

Hey, wait a second, Jet said. Here, buddy. Take my seat. I’ll ride in the back with the boards. Seriously. Take my seat. Jet got out of the cab and pulled himself up into the bed of the truck, jumping in with the paddleboards. As Clemens was making his way around the truck to the passenger’s side Wen banged on the back window to get Jet’s attention. When Jet looked up Wen waved a middle finger at him. Continue reading