Three recent unusual and imaginative stories I enjoyed. Congratulations, All:
From Aubrey Hirsch’s “Certainty” at PANK:
“Right from the start, Cris was pretty certain she could get me pregnant. It started on our honeymoon—a six day trip to Vegas where we stayed at the Venetian, ate at the Paris and drank all night at New York, New York. We took a gondola ride to the elevators and made out like high school kids. In our room, Cris slid her soft hands under my cotton skirt. She rubbed against me, her leg between my legs.
“Let’s make a baby,” she whispered.
My breathless laugh came out like a moan. “What?” I asked.
“Let’s make a baby,” she said again. “Right now. Tonight.”
She rubbed her cheek against my cheek and I played along. “Okay,” I said. “Knock me up.”
When we were finished, she put her hand on my abdomen, traced a ring around my belly button.
“Do you think we did it?”
I turned to look at her. Her eyes were wide and hopeful. “Are you joking?” I asked. “You know you can’t actually get me pregnant.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I took a biology class. In third grade.”
“Sometimes unexpected things happen,” she said.”
From Roxanne Carter’s “Beyond This Point Are Monsters” at Dark Sky Magazine:
“her soft eye available for intimacy. an anxiety about whether the phone will ring: she’ll flush, try to say hello. try not to seem like she’s uncertain, pale and ugly in her distress. a rose blooming where her forearm meets her elbow, a stain on the underside, otherwise like a lizard’s cold belly.
darling says, i did not loose track. she points out where the waves were moving, her hand dropping as she realizes the futility of her actions and the impossibility of capturing her reflection in the water.
the cat at the bottom of the stairs awaits dissolution.
darling complains that the ocean is no longer there. she will have to go alone, knocking the bushes and treacle out of her way, reciting against a contrary wind. she imagines it will work: she will be useful. it will end happily. she is no longer impressed by the dark.”
From Otessa Moshfegh’s “The Chaperone” in Guernica Magazine:
“The next morning she sings “Pick Me Up Jonnie.” It’s the martin’s and my least favorite song. “Pish,” it says, and regurgitates a silk worm, poor bird. I’m in the bath. I’m on the balcony. I’m reading, in bed. A snakey layer of tan has already sloughed off on the sheets, leaving my arms raw and blotchy. The martin tugs a loose strand of skin from my forearm. I pretend it hurts. It hops off the bed and flutters to the sill of the window, turning its neck around, head cocked resentfully, ashamed.
“Come let’s go catch a game of tennis then get our nails done.”
It’s Mamie. She puts on white socks, a stretchy skin-colored bra. I pull up the blanket and grit my larynx, grumble: “You go on. I’m going to sleep this bug off.”
It is true that I don’t feel well. Mamie’s thudding steps across the floor, her loud, so wet, cheese-flavored breathing have made me sick. Slackened thighs flashing white and wrinkly through her open robe as she thuds across the floor, yes. Her big-toothed, hot, lip-licking mouth still haunted with Roquefort—“What’s this stuff!”—it ails me. I know how to describe her. It’s Mamie sitting on the floor at her open suitcase: phlegm-fogged, babbling, wide-eyed, curls bouncing, thighs astride, lion-like, lifting her tennis shoes up by the strings going “oooh” and everything, really everything so soaked already with the scent of her—“What?”—birthday-cake-flavored body creams, that nasty sweat of hers. Sweat that’d make a dog gag.
“See, I should just throw all these dresses out,” she’s saying. “Or give them to the needy. Do you want them?”
I gag a bit just then.
“If you get me sick I’ll be so mad,” Mamie says covering her mouth with one hand. “You know how sick I was in Switzerland? Those stupid nuns just kept splashing water on my face. I could have killed them.'”