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November Monthly Feature: Laurie Stone

Tracks

Near tracks small gardens the size of graves. A dog runs beside a far-away wall. I know
there’s something there. Silver hair, a backward glance, the feeling of loneliness on a
significant date. “So close,” said the fly, buzzing against the window, “but this is not
the way out.” Riverside Park in the early eighties. The dog runs up the hill to the stone
wall. Gardner and I jog the dirt path, and I whistle notes the dog ignores. Leashed, we
scoot up the hill for frozen yogurt with all the time in the world. Thirty years later the
man and dog are long dead, and Richard and I sit by the river. A spaniel sniffs a sheltie
with the white fur of my dog, running in a dream the night before. Richard speaks about
taxidermy as a form of recovering the dead, but in this practice death is also frozen in
place, like a museum that recreates a single day in the past, lived over and over. There
are places we don’t want to return to. A hard little knot of dried tissue under hair, a
spot of matting on a dog’s hide where a bloody tick has been removed. As we run, old
habits stubble up. A flat of geraniums atop a trash bin, ripe for plucking. A command to
undress, a blue towel, the dog’s head resting on a pillow. Let’s start with that.

Pig

Eel and I saw pig pig snuffling in a clearing before he skipped out of view. Usually, as
we sharpened our sticks, we didn’t think ahead, but the next day when I was whittling,
I saw the point slide through pig’s hide, covered with bristling hairs. I saw pig’s eyes
spring open, and I said, “No.” Eel said if we found pig when the sun was on top, we
would take it as a sign. This, too, was different, because previously in our stories we had
no choice. When Eel and I went hunting, I felt a grinding in my heart as if parts were
rubbing. I smelled crackling and wondered how pig could grow fat by eating leaves and
smaller animals. If I ate pig, then pig would become Mary-Beth. Another way to put this
was: I, too, was pig. The thought was musical, and I began to sing it to myself. On the
trail, we could see where branches were broken. We looked at the tender cleft marks
of pig’s trotters, and I thought fondly of other things that were split: peaches, buttocks,
brains. Pig’s feet were small compared to his weight while our feet were long compared
to our slender bodies. Pig was in a pool of light, eating a grey rat. We were quiet, but Pig
could smell us. He looked up, and our eyes met. The future was speed.

Capsule

One was a hole. One was a stick. One let you pass. One bit. They rearranged the
furniture. It was a lost civilization with broken bits scattered around. I lived alone in a
small room. Outside it was so cold you would freeze to death in five minutes. I recorded
my thoughts in a book. I wasn’t writing to make friends. I was writing for the taste. I
lived this way for six months and didn’t miss anyone. When I opened the hatch, nothing
was left but happy memories.

Help Wanted

My boyfriend is unavailable because, well, he’s married. He tells me he has no phone
in his house. Of course I don’t believe him. I play along because we’ve been dating for
three years and I do love him and truly believe he is not having sex with his wife. But
there’s a bug in my room. RIGHT NOW. I don’t know if it’s dead or alive, but I can’t sleep
in there. I’m kind of freaking out. I shut the bedroom door and opened up the futon so
I’ll be sleeping in the living room tonight. If you are available to kill the bug, I will give
you, a friend or a family member a ride to Asbury Park. Just kill the bug. If it’s already
dead, get rid of it for me. This isn’t generally how I meet people.

 

apa in citationsLaurie Stone is author of three books of fiction and nonfiction. She has been a longtime writer for the Village Voice and has received numerous arts grants. Her stories have appeared in Open City, Anderbo, Joyland, Nanofiction, The Los Angeles Review, New Letters, Ms., nthWord, TriQuarterly, The Literary Review, Threepenny Review, Speakeasy, Exquisite Corpse, Memorious, Creative Nonfiction, St Petersburg Review and Four Way Review. In 2005, she participated in “Novel: An Installation,” writing a book and living in a house designed by architects Salazar/Davis in Flux Factory’s gallery space. She is currently at work on The Love of Strangers, Micro, Flash, and Short Fiction.