YOUR SICK by Carol Guess, Elizabeth Colen and Kelly Magee
Out today from Jellyfish Highway, is Your Sick, a collaborative collection of microfiction by Carol Guess, Elizabeth Colen and Kelly Magee. The publisher says that “These magical stories offer no cures for the human condition, but they will infect you with dreams of a different kind of life. “
We are very happy to be able to feature an excerpt. Give it a read, and check out the book and all the cool things Justin L. Daugherty is doing at Jellyfish Highway, an exciting and smart new small press.
Autumn’s the time for faking your death. Piles of leaves, loose threads on red sweaters. Early November in the Arboretum. Orange and ocher. The occasional gold.
I take photos. Stock. It’s a day job, a night job. Everyone likes a white cat, a blue moon. That morning I shot straight through lunch. Got halfway to dinner when I heard my name.
Except the name, while mine, wasn’t meant for me. It meant me, but not me in a stranger’s soft voice. The voice was pleading with the name for mercy. I did what I do without thinking: took aim.
The photo meant I had to leave town. Simple as that; it wasn’t even a question. So on casual Friday I faked my own death. Then I went running and beat my best time. Sometimes fake feels better than real. When I was a kid, I smoked candy cigars.
Kayla knew a guy at the morgue. She worked for a dentist so he had her on speed dial. One afternoon we were at her apartment when she got a call about a mystery corpse.
“Dental records,” she shrugged. “Just a Doe. Do you have a twin?”
“Why do you ask?”
She held up her phone.
The face on her phone was my face, but dead.
Orange and ochre. The occasional gold. The bamboo beds light up with the sky. This is the hour they talk about.
I shot a deer pacing through red light. I ran over a doe.
“John,” she called me, as she settled in my lap, a fiver between her teeth, though I’d meant to leave a ten.
Autumn’s the name she gave me, auburn hair, fake tits, an inscrutable smile. She wants the money, needs the money, loves me loves me loves the square brick of my shoulders, my uneven hair. We started where?
I’m in my own relocation program. I’m in my own green velour chair. Everyone likes a fat cat, Russian blue. Everyone loves the moon. Seen nine ways through an empty tree, nine ways in the water. In stripes and in diamonds and still.
Ten pages missing from my diary. Bite marks in the cover that don’t match mine. Teeth that weren’t meant for me, name them: bicuspid and canine. My name wasn’t meant for me: lawncare, outstretch, parent or guardian, sheepskin, lover, the loved, beloved, Winter. Anticipation of snow in my hair.
But the creature in the brush backtracks across the empty road where only the white moon watches. And hammers fall somewhere, nails shot back in the gun. The screws come loose and the house yields. The house yields, and the missing crawl back into their skin.
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