Three Stories by Amanda Gowin
Hand her a book – she’ll purse her lips like a schoolmarm to hide the smile, tuck her chin, and flip through to see if it’s used and what you and the world before you may have touched or underlined – she seeks what gave you pause, with unpolished nails and straight spine she folds her feet beneath her and seeks your reflection in crooked crayon.
Her Boots Were Caramel
Shades of orange – hair, coat, everything – like she’d been dipped in nicotine. Her nose is red from ducking in the bathroom to emerge with fuck-me eyes. I have nothing to offer, no incentive for her to break away from her socket-knuckling boyfriend. Snapshot temptation on a park bench – if I’m caught, we’ll have something to talk about.
The Old Universe
A sheet of typing paper reading ‘MARS’ hung above the kitchen doorway.
She said I didn’t answer but the screen was unlocked, I was painting and didn’t look up.
“I knew you’d come today.” In the photo she took I wore red devil horns.
She washed the dishes and I asked her to leave, but it was nothing personal. There had been a Night Before and would be another – I needed a nap in between.
It was a cowardly way, I tell her today, of waiting to die. If the roof hadn’t weakened and caved in the rain, I would’ve not waken. If the roof hadn’t literally fallen in, I would’ve died.
You were already dead, she answers. There was nothing left of you.
I don’t remember any of this, I say (but maybe I do – she didn’t mention the horns).
The Jesus clock collage and all the long socks were lost in the flood, the purple figure painting and notebooks full of lurid details – smeared and blurry, lines bled together – chicken scratch memories obliterated.
I burned them. Should have told her.
Amanda Gowin lives in the foothills of Appalachia with her husband and son. Her stories have been published in BlackHeart Magazine and Thunderdome, and will appear in the upcoming anthology Warmed and Bound. She has always written and always will. Find her online here.