“Diptych: A Study of Flora and Fauna in Two Short Tales,” by alumna Kimberly Jean Smith (fiction, ’12) appears online in Shadowgraph Magazine:
A Man of the Country
When walking city streets, I am often overcome by a strange sensation; there is no one left I haven’t seen. In the park, I spy a young lady. She wears a velvet skirt and too-tall heels, kicking dust into the face of the little dog following on a leather leash. With but a glance, the pair dismiss me, for the benches are filled with middle-aged men much as myself, sitting in once fine suits. I need only turn my head this way or that to see their fraying collars. Nevertheless, even with such dismissal are not the young woman, her dog, and I somehow linked? Why I saw a-nose-in-the-air-pair much like them last week. Just as yesterday, while waiting for the tram, I spotted an old man with thick glasses, looking exactly like a man I observed three years ago spitting grape seeds across the platform’s varnished floor. Or is this man, now staring at me blankly as if I were a stranger, the very man who has lived above me for years? Surely it is he who nightly crosses the room overhead with the aching pace of the infirm. Yes, I say to myself, I have already seen each of you.
When I was six years old, a pink and yellowing corpse, bright against a playground’s black asphalt, caught my downcast eyes––a hatchling, feathers unformed, fallen from its nest. I slipped it into my pocket quickly, for I did not want my classmates to see. I was afraid they would prod and kick the strange mass, which to me was already precious.
Understand, my father was away at war, and I was alone much of each day.
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