Breath & Shadow
Volume 14, Issue 2
“How are you?”
I don’t like that question, because I don’t know how to answer it.
Do you mean how am I right now, this moment, when you’re asking? Do you mean in general, taking into account that I have a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator? Or, do you mean compared to the last time we spoke?
How am I?
My answer depends on how I want to think about my situation.
"Naked and (Mostly) Unafraid: A Review"
As I write this review, it is hard to move forward. Not because my mobility impairment has gotten any worse, or because tech years are counted so differently from regular years--although it is hard to think about writing when you wake up every morning afraid your faithful PC might turn into a giant paperweight overnight. My hesitation does not reflect a lack of quality in the eclectic stories in the new short-story collection ‘The Right Way To Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability”(points for the saucy title, taken from a pleasantly explicit story by Jonathan Mack), edited by Sheila Black, Michael Northen and Annabelle Hayse.
Barring mistakes, this is what Nazdeha consumes each day:
Seaweed. Green. Two cups. Chewed ninety times per bite.
Five mountain grapes. Red. Chewed thirty-four times each.
Seaberry juice. Orange as a salamander, bitter as bile. One whole damn glass.
The Hive play a game to test the moral acuity of their leaders. In their flat, monosyllabic language, it is called Consequences.
The rules are simple:
One player offers something they are willing to relinquish. The other counters with an offer of slightly higher value. This exchange continues until one player is forced to wager something- a province, perhaps, or a memory- they do not wish to lose.
When he gets like this, she equates it to having an epileptic fit. The stimulus crashes and burns across his synapses triggering an automatic, involuntary response. He can’t stop or control it. The angry words spill out of him in response to the sounds and light stabbing into him. He feels like a tiger has grabbed hold of his head, biting into his brain and shaking his whole body with savage intent. His reaction is the automatic fight for self-preservation.
Shaelyn felt as awkward and vulnerable as a hermit crab without shell. She couldn’t stop her arms from crossing and her nails from scratching. If she hadn’t been wearing two shirts and a sweater, she probably would’ve been bleeding before she even found her date. Not that she was sure finding him was even possible.
The commuter dining hall was packed with students that ranged from the palest white to the darkest brown, a blurred gradient of humanity swirling together. Noise came at her from every direction. Girls were laughing like seagulls circling a laden fishing boat as it returned to port. Words collided and divided, merging into sounds that held no meaning and made it hard for Shaelyn to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.
"Why Did You Leave Us, Linda?"
We knew you weren’t meant to grow old.
You had so many problems caused
by your R.A.
You had surgeries on so many parts of your body,
still you made it to workshops and readings…
"A Temporary Perspective"
Sloan held the small clay sculpture and traced its surface with her first two fingers. The flat, black paint and misshapen facial features looked and felt as if a toddler had made it.
She felt her son watching her and asked, “What is it?”
Josh shrugged as if to say, no big deal, but didn’t reply. Sloan tried again, wishing that engaging Josh wasn’t such a workout.
"Alan Turing" and "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, This One’s For You!"
he said in his white coat,
ordinary exceptions that prove
But the sum, the calculation
does not return,
it spits on all his pain...
"Being or Living With"
my head weighs a whole ten pounds.
My shoulders must be tired from such a burden,
but you are going to free me
because you know
that if you angle the knife just right
when you slice it off
a balloon will blossom from my neck
with harsh fluorescent lights for eyes
and a sharpie grin
and for hair, a single rope you can pull
when you play tug-of-war...
"You’ve Become Unsafe Ground"
Akua Lezli Hope
You’ve become unsafe ground:
I can arrive at the inn and have a great meal
but the walls start to shake
the ground begins to tremble
denying our shared past
recasting steps taken to the door
"Stephen Hawking Has It Right"
My name is Daniel and I am a student and I get horny. Cue the mix of nervous laughter and hypothetical high-fives here.
Like, at times, really, really horny. Not all the time, no. Yet a pretty decent amount.
Never have I had a girlfriend, and I am, well, let us just say, "extremely sexually frustrated."