Aftermath by Johanna
There are no canyons to cordon neighborhoods or rivers to divide regions. In Kansas, a town is a place along a road where houses converge. Everything else is empty, fields of empty. Not even a uniquely shaped boulder to name a street after. It is as if someone decided this would be a lovely place to plant a town, just over here, and seed a border of shops, service stations and government buildings.
My daughter asks me what sound wind makes. She is singing Old McDonald and at the moment Old McDonald has wind on his farm, eeii, eeii, ooh. I tell her it says, “whooosh” and bend my voice low. “With a woosh, woosh here and a woosh, woosh there,” she continues. My husband: “Old McDonald had a wind farm?”
Wind only makes sound when it is pushing up against something or traveling through; it lacks autonomy. This makes the wind feel unloved, invisible so to speak. It craves attention. The wind also hates Kansas. In the spring, it likes to spin itself into a hissy, throw a tantrum, and thrash down upon the randomly strewn gardens of towns. Sometimes, it gets carried away. Sometimes, it carries everything away.
My daughter is out of the car now, stretching her legs while we watch the construction underway to rebuild the town. Running off, she trips precariously close to the rim of a pit. I yell, “Get over here, right now!” She cries, “I want to run! I just want to run!”
“I'll count to five and you better get your behind back here. 1.... 2.....3....
Top 10 Things to do in the Aftermath by Nicole
Top 10 Things to do in the Aftermath
wrap up in a blanket in cold weather.
play “I Spy” and notice the red and the rusty.
practice using PVC in a recycled sculpture.
redeem copper for money.
kick the debris but only while wearing boots.
wear gloves in case you must pick up the plastic.
disregard the plastic
keep the tires.
don’t inhale around the pipes.
burn the wood only if it’s not been stained or painted.
Graygray by Lyle
They looked for bones amongst the rubble. Beigebeige. They hunted for muscle and fat. They rummaged for hair and nails and sinews. They searched for mass. Redred. Picked through and strung out, the people investigated themselves for blood. The Qassam rockets landed near by. The MATADOR missiles landed near by. I pretended that I was dead and that you were dead and watched the twisted metal and rubber smoke. There was something red in the jumble of nothuman remains. Everything was human. Everything was dead. An object in motion is not proof of life. Silhouette against the blueblue sky. Maybe a bird. Maybe another rocket. It's black and falls into the sun, but reappears. Nothuman. The rubble is bones. The rubble is muscle and fat. The rubble is rubber and metal and wire and plastic. Graygray. I don't have to pretend anymore. Blackblack.
Redacted Item From Progress Report By the “Little Bobby” Macauley Search Party at the White Sulfur Landfill, November 21, 2009, Later Restored in a Secretly Taped Conversation at DiGentillo’s Tavern, February 14, 2010 by Forrest
Have problems feeling some kind of the rightest way with him leaving all the personal shit there when everyone dreams about his old man’s outboard motor instead.
Unforced by Bill
part of you, a small part of you, wants to make all of this into a weapon, and you want to be angry because you are still kind of angry most of the time when you lift it onto your shoulder, strapping it around your waist a slump in your shoulder just hopes to leave all of this mess alone that right eye you keep rubbing with the ball of your palm has gone looking for a shadow in the shape of a tiger taking your legs with it you feel a small grit of skin scratching above your ear flake off beneath your fingernail and laugh to yourself that you should find a belt to cinch around your waste part of it reminds you of the season 5 finale’ in Lost and you’re still circumambulating around this pile like all those other piles you have circled in your absent-minded asceticism or you remember the piles of dirt the county trucks used to leave across the road from the house when you were little you used to climb even after that time you got scabies because the electricity was shut off and there was no hot water
Evan’s Roommate by Beth
The sun was just starting to shine bright on my desk when I read the email about what had happened. You’d think they’d tell his roommates first, but I found out the way everyone else did. I’d gone to bed at three, just to get a couple of hours of sleep before getting up to finish my paper for English, the one class he and I had together. I had been dead tired, but now I wasn’t.
I knew I should wake Mark up and tell him, but I also knew he’d do the drama kid thing and act like it was a big loss, like we were really close to him. Later I’d be glad he could do that, act devastated around Evan’s parents, around the counselor they eventually sent to talk to us, but not now.
I went on Evan’s facebook to see what people were saying. Only a couple of his high school friends had posted so far. Then I checked for news reports, but I didn’t need to read them to know what had happened. Evan was from DC. He didn’t know anything about driving in the snow, and worse, he thought he did. He could probably tell you everything about how a car works in snow, the mechanics of it, but all that kind of knowing would just get in the way. He wouldn’t know how to feel the car, make little corrections, not panic, let go.
The sink was still full of his mac n cheese bowls, which had been bugging Mark & me all weekend. Evan only liked food that was bright orange and smelled bad. I got up and just stood there looking at the dishes, wondering what I was supposed to do. I guessed his parents would show up sometime to get his stuff, and I tried to see the room like my parents would. The back of our door, which was covered with beer bottle caps that Evan had stuck on there with gum or plasta tack. The swimsuit edition photos that I had torn out and put up all around my desk. They wouldn’t be impressed that we had three TVs stacked up together, and that we sometimes watched different shows on each at the same time.
I thought about Evan, how he leaned back in his chair in English, arms crossed, scowling, how he said nasty sexual things about the teacher whenever her back was turned, how he cheated off me on quizzes, how he never did any homework but still got B’s in all his classes. How he stole my high school girlfriend, how he stole my gloves out of the back of my car and then kept insisting they were his, how he spilled strawberry milk between the couch cushions and just let it dry.
Because I couldn’t feel sorry that he had died, I washed his dishes.
The Jump by Alan
Like barbells hurled in a tornado, the thinking about it is both fascinating and dangerous. We’re not the prize fighters we used to be, that’s for sure. But what isn’t for sure, what still is missing, is the reason why she attempted the jump in the first place. With so few miles to go, why veer off and seek a new kind of adventure? She made sure that no one was watching, but our sources say one man (the proprietor’s cousin) watched the whole thing go down. She undressed the air in those seven or eight seconds. She unfolded the paper nightgowns of our minds, the ones we lie down with during the late shows. She made a pact with gravity, the stray dog who always follows us home. Grow wings, she cried. God, let this beast grow wings. And the rest was a photo in a textbook near some words about something you can’t or won’t memorize. In a school. On a desk. The promise of something more but suspended. Forever.