White Cardboard Boxes

by Jessica Andrews

Syllables are hard and round in my mouth but my self is a shape without edges. Sentences have speech marks and indentations, so I may know the difference between speaking and thinking. There are full stops and commas, so I may know the right time to draw breath. When I read words on a page, the markers are provided for me. Living in a body is different.

The Taking of the Birds

The taking of the birds was something that none of us had seen coming. As far as political allegiance went, there was a time when it would hardly have occurred to us to wonder which side the birds were on, but if it had, or if we had been asked, the answer would have been obvious. What did we know in those days?

Matrescence

Really, I had no idea what becoming a mother would entail before my daughter was born. That my ‘Mom’ jeans would take on a literal sense was about the only sure bet I could make... After the birth, and the initial trimester of her life, I did not expect my identity to be ruptured still.

COIN

The war seemed almost over when Red 1 began faking al-Qaedas. Not just one or two, either – whole cells of sham terror, jihadis fabricated out of magic desert air for captains and colonels to freak over. And freak they did. White people turn pink when they get angry, so there were many meetings of important, pink-faced men screaming at each other; trying to figure out how, and what, and why.

The Spring

This place is mapped on the inside of her skin. The archway, the hole that tumbles down, driven into the earth as if some great creature had dug and dug—the stone sides like the walls of a mausoleum. 30 metres down the tunnel cuts to the side and there is a second archway lifting towards the light.

Nothing Sacred

Talk was vain and Jac took little pleasure in it. The tanned man driving the taxi from the airport out into the flat expanse of country had attempted it from behind his handlebar moustache. She had taken ever longer pauses between responses until, finally, he ceased.

Godspeed

We buy the dog, the puppy, whose name in this story is Maggie, though really it is Sylvie. We might have considered calling the dog (as opposed to the fiction) Maggie, but some friends called their baby Maggie, removing it from our list of possibilities.

The List

He stands in front of the mirror, both hands clutching the side of the sink, nose grazing the toothpaste-splattered mirror. He ignores the razors and multiple bottles of aftershave crammed on the ledge. He ignores the soggy mat beneath his feet. He looks deep into his dark brown eyes and reaffirms his right to get the things he wants in life.

The Wall

I learned about the wall the same way everyone learned about the wall; it was just there. The sun is warm, the lavender smells like lavender. When the traffic lights turn green, that means ‘go’. The wall was built to protect us from the people on the other side, and if you get too close the soldiers start shooting.

Yawning into the Staring Abyss Again

Nevin Trebec awoke on his futon wearing snow pants and a parka. Underneath the snow pants and parka, he was naked. It was the first day of June. ‘What the hell happened?’ he said, as he sat up.