Wednesday, August 27, 2014


By Eric Suhem

Celeste and her boyfriend Edwin acted upon their yearnings, encountering spilled seeds on car upholsteries during trysts on Lover’s Lane. One night, they drove to a lake and swam in the dark water under the moonlight. On the shore they made love beneath the stars, promising their souls to each other forever. Soon Celeste became pregnant, and when she told Edwin, he seemed overjoyed, talking expansively of their future together. The next day, Edwin disappeared, and Celeste drove around town looking for him, to no avail. As she drove by the lake where they had declared their undying love, she looked into her car’s side view mirror, seeing a bright white light that pulled her back through time, into an earlier incarnation.

In the past life, the river flowed with oil and black mud, salmon flipped onto the shore and died, coughing their salmon coughs, writhing on the sand. A car with a glowing side view mirror was parked nearby. “Looks like a grand day for boating,” muttered Celeste, in an elegant dress and hat, holding a parasol with clenched fists. “Aye ‘tis, Celeste!” declared Edwin, dressed as the gentleman dandy he was, in white pants, striped shirt, tie and straw hat. He was pulling mightily on the rope tied to a small boat, guiding it into the dock. They got in, and started floating down the river, as a dark squid bounced out of the water and into the boat. Edwin swatted at it, worried that its squid movements would spray drops of mud on his immaculate white outfit. Celeste sat at the end of the boat, eyeing Edwin with suspicion, chewing on a piece of raw deer meat she had ripped off an abandoned carcass near the shore before boarding. Soon Edwin was on bended knee, asking for her hand in marriage. He held a ring out to Celeste, and she pinched it between her thumb and forefinger, examining it with a jeweler’s magnifying glass from her purse. With an abrupt “Hmpph…” she threw the ring and the chewed deer carcass into the water, much to the delight of the dark, muddy manta rays. Edwin jumped into the river after the ring, and was sucked down into the mud. Celeste maneuvered the boat to the shore and walked toward the car, staring at the side door mirror’s bright white light, which propelled her forward into the future.

In a later incarnation, Celeste sat on the tan fabric of the cheap plastic chair. There was a faded rose pattern on the chair’s cover, and the chair’s frame squeaked disconcertingly as she shifted her weight. She drank sweetened iced tea from a chipped glass adorned with prints of little owls. Her big black eyes were the first things that Edwin noticed. He could not find the whites of her eyes, only obsidian pools that seemed to pull him in and smother, as he sat in the chair on the other side of the living room, describing the insurance policy he was selling. Edwin’s car was parked outside, the side view mirror shining. In the backyard, Celeste’s two young children were playing with some broken misshapen toys on the brown crabgrass, a nearby sprinkler dripping water into the mud. In her faded yellow dress, Celeste never looked out the window at the children, only stared at him with those big black unblinking eyes. Edwin continued his spiel, nervously listing the benefits of the insurance policy, as the blackness of her eyes tore through him like a dagger and swam through his insides with a cancerous glow, finally pulling him down.

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Eric Suhem lives in the orange hallway.


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