Marionette

Jackson traced a finger along the lower lip, making some final adjustments. High cheekbones, dark eyes, and pouty lips made it the perfect head for the standard model lithe body she would roll out this evening. She pushed her glasses up her nose and glanced at the clock. Scant time for testing, but getting her selfie ready should be enough. The head…

Engine

You wake up lying on the floor. You’re on your side. Blurred faces gather around you. “He has a hammer!” a woman yelled. There’s a sharp pain in your thigh. You lean back, shoulders stiff. You slide the tool from your body. A moment ago, you were in the hardware store. Before that, you were…

“How Kind of You to Come”

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve forgotten her face. It’s become a disordered collage: the slope of a nose, the curve of a lip, a glow of brown eyes. Memory no longer assembles them into a face. So I paint everything else. Her front door. The in-between coat she wore in autumn. Her beagle.…

Click Click

She found the battered camera behind the bushes, a small silver ingot of hidden treasure that glinted in the setting sun at the just the right angle to catch her eye. The metal was tarnished to a dull sheen, the round shutter button worn down to concave plastic white that fit her finger just so.…

A Woman’s Blood

This happened once before. I was in 8th grade, attending a high school play, admiring Billy Gregg’s performance as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. I wasn’t trying to get his attention. He was a senior, and I wasn’t even thinking about boyfriends, not for real. Billy was delivering the line, “There’s only one thing…

5. The Things We Miss

Continued from last week’s installment of Digging in the Dirt. Sheriff Daniel Coyle huffed up the long, gradual hill a few acres from where he’d parked his gray Ford Crown Victoria by the storage barn at the small, family-run pig farm. Moist winds blew the mixed scents of fertilizer and grass around the field. Once…

4. Mud Pies

Continued from last week’s installment of Digging in the Dirt. The sun was slipping behind distant treed mountains at the furthest viewable point of Route 118. “Entering Dirt City, PA. Pop. 329, Elev. 994 ft.” Louisa swerved, just missing the sign. She corrected immediately and continued at exactly 45 mph. It didn’t happen all the…

3. Frogs

Continued from last week’s installment of Digging in the Dirt. Tabitha, a pale woman in her 30’s with blue-tinted black hair cut in a severe bob and–at 4pm–still in her pajamas, carried two mugs of coffee in one hand, a clipboard under her arm, and a stack of file folders in the other hand. She…

2. Church

Continued from last week’s installment of Digging in the Dirt. A rust-colored 1973 Chevy Nova was flattened underneath a smaller blue 1977 Honda Civic. Russ awkwardly climbed over them to get to the spot. Just beyond a block building, in a muddy clearing backed by three trees, and surrounded by an evenly placed circle of…

1. Dinner Time

This is the first installment of Digging in the Dirt. Jim lifted a spoon to his mouth and took a taste from the pot. He paused and let the smells infuse his senses; he closed his eyes and meditated on the flavors. “Mediocre,” he thought. “Oh, well,” and yelled, “Dinner’s ready!” as he wiped the…