BY LAUREN DOSTAL
I. "The Winter Ukrainian"
Buried under the snow, a hand. It crawled with fingertips as black as the hidden pavement. The man arising. The sun glaring on his home in the snow, turning it back into water. A car and then a crowd pass by and the man sits naked with his hand outstretched. Scars spiral up the muscles of his blue veined forearm—a tale he’d rather not tell and no one asks him anyway. There was a woman once, passing by she dropped a red kopeck in his hand and he thanked her. Such a strange piercing stare in her ice blue eyes bloodshot with last night’s memories still playing like a video tape across her retinas. Was he there? No, he was buried deep where no one could find him, and now his house was gone. He’d make another when the weather turned. Until then, he would sit with his hand outstretched and waiting. Maybe someone would take it.
II. "The Executive’s Assistant"
A bird in flight over the city, wings stretched out, taut in the thin twilit air. A woman sits behind her desk at the top of the tallest building clacking keys. She’s smeared her lipstick on the neck of her co-worker down in accounting and only now notices as she stares into the empty eyes reflected in her computer screen. Her fingers pen emails line by line, drizzling their digital ink with the touch of smart cynicism that earned her this position. It’s all she can do to keep the bitterness from oozing out of her dilated pores. Claws scratch at the window. Fifty stories up. Who could make it this high this late at night? She finds the bird, or what remains of it, on the outside of her boss’ window, a brilliant red smear against the dripping hues of the disappearing sun.
III. "The Party Girl"
Red dress, auburn in the setting sun, crimson under moonlight, a drop of cabernet in the slippery yellow bar lights. Smoke slides underneath her hemline snaking into black lace and silk—the things she thought would give her the courage to finally open up. Quickly she dilutes the water in her veins with more potent stuff. A band takes the stage—which is really just a space they cleared on the floor at the edge of the garden. This guy slicks his hair back and strikes a chord and everyone pulls closer to hear the sad melancholy of his miserable life experience. Poetry. The ambiguity of notes. calloused fingers singing stories of a half-remembered childhood, and somewhere someone whistles. A flickering flame drops from her eyelids as a hand reaches down to dust off the parts of herself she kept trying to forget like her bloated thighs and the black stubble overgrowing her little green daisy tattoo. When she screams, they take it for rapture and everyone applauds. After all, most people just came here for the music.
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Lauren Dostal is a native Floridian writing out of Tampa. Her work has been published in Entropy, Hobart, and Moonchild Magazine. She likes punk rock, dark coffee, and the many scorned women of Greek tragedy. You can follow her on Twitter at @ell_emm_dee