When the sink hole opened up behind my house and swallowed both the dried up brick well and peach tree, I saw a city in the earth. A perfect circle, roughly thirty feet in diameter, hundreds of feet down, yawned for light and illuminated houses like pueblo dwellings, complete with shutters, flower boxes, and ornately carved doors embedded in the rotting limestone walls. I called my neighbors to come see and it wasn’t long before most of the town stood, shielding eyes against the sun, all in the same fashion: channeling Texas grandfather poses outside a gas station in high summer. There were no ladders, no bridges, no lights, no people—only seemingly husked residences.
Brenda Houx took the children to her house; she said she didn’t want any part of what was down there and it wasn’t for the young ones either. We let her leave and then set up lawn chairs in curiosity and while we grunted in unworded speculation, old Miss Famke made limeade. Every few hours one of us would venture a phrase or two but eyes were too large for words and the silence continued to eat us. Finally, Skeeter Collins, the widower who owned the hardware store, declared he was going down and spent the next three hours lashing ladders to each other. I’d never seen anything like it, folded metal like a marionette had lost its body. Eventually I got up to help him and we sat in the grass with gardening shears and cut pieces of rope to tie them together.
It was about the time that we finished when the Carols wheeled their gas grill around to my backyard for hotdogs. When they were done, Skeeter wiped his tanned, wrinkled hands on his overalls and nodded to himself, affirming some thought none of us were privy to. It was almost seven when he backed up his Ford F250 and fixed up his trailer hitch.
“I never believed I’d see the day,” he said. “You hear about these things, you know. Sink holes opening up. I’ve seen pictures too, but it never looked like anything was down ‘em. Wonder if they’re all like this.”
We didn’t tell him that it probably wasn’t like that. It might have been the way we all breathed a little shallower, or the way we felt our eyes widen when a door below appeared suddenly open. Things like that just didn’t happen round our parts, and cruelly, we were all willing to let him go for our own excitement.
I helped him feed the ladders into the hole, six in all, 132 feet long. It didn’t even seem strange, the way we all waved goodbye like we knew he wasn’t coming back, and the way he laughed and ducked his head into shadows like he knew he wasn’t either. By the time he reached the top most house, he was little more than a shadow himself, slipping into brightly painted earth like the last of the sun.
Gwendolyn Edward lives in Texas and is finishing her MA in Creative Writing at the University of North Texas while preparing to enter Bennington’s MFA. She writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and likes to write both traditional narrative prose and prose that challenges convention, form, and genre. This is because her father encouraged her to challenge everything growing up. You can find her at www.gwendolynedward.com.
This is what your dream means: strangers will lay out your clothes and select the best of them to be displayed in glass cases. Your linen will be labelled and stacked on dim shelves. They will number your furniture and your letters and your gold gryphon armlets. The gifts your grandchildren give you, which you now count as treasures, will be kept only because they can throw nothing away.
They will strip away the improvements made by your descendants to your palace, returning it to your unbearably gloomy grandeur. You will not recognize it. You would never have put that couch in that room, or sat in that chair beneath that window. You have fires blazing in every chamber. They will not even light lamps.
Earnest young women will discuss how to move your cedarwood tables safely. In the rooms where your slaves live, they will set up offices and eat cake. They will peer at the friezes meant to immortalize your victories. Probably the defeat of Sparda, they will say. Just look at what people wore back then.
This is what your dream means: one day, strangers will walk through your life looking for carpet beetles and woodworm. One day, your weapons will be ornaments and your chariot a plaything. One day, when the roof of the storeroom collapses, the heads of lions you slew with your own hands will bare their yellow teeth at the stars.
One day, your life will be no more than an inventory. But then, you wanted to rule the world.
Julia August likes stately homes, but sometimes they give her odd ideas. Her short fiction has appeared in Lackington’s, SQ Mag, Cabinet des Fées and the anthology Star Quake 2. She is @JAugust7 on Twitter and j-august on tumblr. Find out more at http://juliaaugust.com/
We were small and unmoving like twigs are on still water. We lay on the banks of the river hurting for breath. We’d come sailing the weave of dreams into rivers.
Cyclops stepped into the water from where he hid in the trees and scooped us out with his fingers. He had the hands of a young man full of touch and the yearning to carry ropes of the world along in his tread, but his eye, as the legends say, was an ageless oracle. We took sharp breaths, my brother and I, like circling crows as Cyclops took us into his cave atop of the mountain and set us in his nest like we were pebbles, soft-shaped, churned by river water.
We asked Cyclops how he climbed the mountains with only one eye. Did he look at his feet or up ahead? He told us that it did not matter—that the birds drew him up the mountain as they soared on the wind.
We asked Cyclops how he saw the ocean against the sky and he said it was like how we look out the window and see a paned frame of horizon. I asked Cyclops if he loved another, and how she looked with his great eye closed. “She looks like the night air of the mountains,” he said. “The open air that burns without heat.”
And then I asked him, I couldn’t leave until I asked him—how he survived the earthquake that swallowed the giants, and I felt the pull of the rotting porch wood in my throat. I sat in Cyclops’ silence, under his gaze and the dream world was fading.
“The world spun in my eye,” he said, “and my hands held it still. When I woke, the ground was shivering, but shut.”
Kristian Ashley Macaron is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended the University of New Mexico. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts where she studied writing in the MFA program at Emerson College. Her previous work has appeared in Conceptions Southwest and on stage at the University of New Mexico in “Full Frontal Poetry” and the 2010 Words Afire Festival. Kristian’s fiction and poetry are forthcoming in The Winter Tangerine Review and the San Antonio Review. She teaches screenwriting in the Emerson College Creative Writer’s Workshop summer program for high school students. Twitter: @kristianmacaron.