picture prosems (2) – Trees
Bend Him to Roots
Years build to calluses, bend him to roots. Then he is ash, broken
as from a cigar. Where he was, life blooms.
Vine-bound from its beginning, a tree grows to burst its restraint.
But scars carve flesh. Wounds become story.
picture prosems (2) – The Andersons
Mrs. Anderson’s beauty did not fade but curdled, sour and lumpy. She grew heavy with years and children grown, gone. Forgiving slacks were armor. Her smile, a shield. It wasn’t war, just the suburbs. But thin gossip, false modesty, homogeny: numbness killed, sure as swords, but slowly.
Someone rang her doorbell, so Mrs. Anderson slipped out the back. She crossed the lawn, well maintained by Mr. Anderson, to the woods behind their subdivision. It was cool, early spring. Twigs poked her bare feet. Out of sight of her neighbors, she undressed.
Astonishing, the air on her body.
Mrs. Anderson stretched as birds chittered, a brook sputtered over stones. Spiders knit. Breezes nudged as she admired nature’s shapes, shades.
The Merriweathers were barbecuing—she smelled lighter fluid. Dinnertime, already. Slowly she dressed, took up her shield. Slowly she left this place that required no pretense, where she was unseen, and beautiful.
Mr. Anderson didn’t ask for this, a career of travel and talk. Managing, being managed. Shiny boardroom tables, stiff carpet. Discussions leaving no one happy, just hungry for lunch. Wishing he’d stayed at Corporate. He spent days in airports, missing the taste of fresh air. The sun, a breeze at his unbuttoned collar.
The paychecks were reassuring.
He was home just often enough to mow the lawn, but Mrs. Anderson never complained. Well, she said she was lonely, and why be married if you’re going to be lonely anyway?
Lately she was strange.
He carried brochures for tropical resorts: bright blue sky, sparkling sea. He pictured Mrs. Anderson, red-painted toenails dug into sand. Or, a beautiful woman he called Mrs. Anderson in his mind.
Who was he to fantasize?
Folks didn’t understand: Up to him, he’d cancel their meeting, lead them outside. He’d slip off his shoes and feel something.
Susan Rukeyser lives in the South but hails from New England and dreams of life in the Mojave. A Skidmore College fiction award winner, her Creative Writing MA is from Lancaster University, UK. She’s a would-be novelist, flash fictionist, nonfiction dabbler, hopeful cynic, fish out of water, mom. She writes to escape, to belong, and because she can’t stop. Believe it, she’s tried. Her work appears in or is forthcoming from Monkeybicycle, PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly, Necessary Fiction, The View from Here, Foundling Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Star 82 Review, among others. Susan has one novel out for consideration and another in a drawer.
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