Harris Lahti

That fall something supernatural rode the air with the pollen—fires burned, chunks of ice fell from cliffs, and I could wear white t-shirts every day without staining them. I could ask random girls on the street if they wanted to pop Benadryl, drink white wine in the park where one of them would later propose a series of staring contests. “The fun part is fighting our brains' evolutionary imperative to look away,” she said, while the head of a great earthworm writhed in the dirt between her naked feet. A few days later there was little left to do but remove my clothes from my plastic grocery bags and place them in her closet. There was plenty of room because she’d recently lost most of her belongings in a fire. “The women in my family are cursed with fire,” she said. “My grandmother, my mother—all the way down the line.” One of my favorite pastimes quickly became trying to catch her blinking during dinner. I did things with her I have never done, convincingly, like I had done them before. So much so that, after a while, I could not help but think of myself as a liar. “I hold the truth in great value,” I said. But whenever I tried to confess this, she shut me up with her mouth. Afterward, she insisted on carving vivid pictures into the skin of my back: of the life we’d soon live feeding on grubs and mushrooms in the dense woods somewhere. And if she had a cat, I never saw it. Meanwhile, my hands became as cracked and dry as my sinuses. Then I started reading articles again online—spontaneous combustion, crop circles, the powers of Orgone energy—and it got so while in bed I could hear the static electricity flicking between the hairs on her arms like a lighter. The day of the first cold snap, the last of the pollen fell to earth and I sneezed another chunk of blood the shape of a hook onto my shirt before continuing to scroll through my cell phone’s terrified version of the world. The leaves went brilliant before they died and I found great respite in their crunching whenever I stole away into the park. Hands in my pockets, huffing smoke, I remembered everything about who I once was. In mirrors, pools of water, hoods of cars—I smiled at myself, without blinking, and somehow my smile kept widening, hardening, until finally a tooth cracked off, bounced off my spattered shirt and lodged itself nerve-up in the frozen dirt where it smoked like an omen.

text by Harris Lahti

Mike Andrelczyk


We were in the motel. Someone must have ripped off the curtains from around the window because there were no curtains to cover the window. I took a sheet off the bed. We had no pins. How did we get the sheet up? We did have some paper clips, so maybe that was it—that we used some paperclips. They were in a side pocket of a carry-on bag. That was what we did. We had the sheet. We used some paperclips from a carry-on bag. We got the sheet up.

I woke up in the night, and the sheet was no longer covering the window. I was certain we had pinned it over the window before we went to bed, but now it was pinned to the side. Outside, through the window, someone was staring into the room, and it’s hard to sleep when someone is staring in. I was naked in the bed. My father wore pajama bottoms. We had no sheet because it was in use, it was supposed to be a curtain, so we were under that filthy motel-room comforter. We still laugh about that comforter.

I’m often confused. My father is often confused. We had thought that we had pinned the sheet over the window, but when I woke up in the night, it was off to the side. My nakedness, my dad’s pajama bottoms. I got up. I put my back against the wall and onto the sheet. I grabbed the sides of the sheet and tried to pull them toward me. I thought the paperclips, which we were using as pins, were flimsy. I thought they would shoot off the wall easy and that I’d be able to wrap myself in the sheet, but that is not what happened. The clips did not move. The sheet stayed fixed. I tried to pull it toward me, but it did not budge at all. This was not a joke to me. It was not fun- ny that the sheet stayed fixed to the wall. My father woke up. He wanted to know what I was doing. Why was I naked? Why was I against the wall? Why was the sheet no longer covering the window? Light was coming in. It was an orange light from a light outside. Someone else was outside, looking at us. They proceeded to tell me what to do.

text by Rhoads Stevens

Maria Gelsomini