Posted on: August 29th, 2010 Princess

By Jeremy C. Shipp

Melody tells me that we need to talk. But of course she’s already talking, so what she really means is that she needs to talk harder.

“Well?” she says.

I nod, like the bobble-headed caricature I’ve become, and I ask her please may I use the bathroom. For emphasis, I point to my crotch.

And in turn, she points to her wrist.

What she means is that I can go, but I’d better not spend more than fifteen minutes avoiding her. In the bathroom, an hour can fly by in a minute. Sometimes, I sit on the toilet, drinking a glass of water while I’m pissing. I pretend the water is flowing through me, and I pretend I’m more of a river than a desert.

After I turn away from Melody, I consider running away, all the way to heaven. But I’m a coward, after all, so I only make it partway there.

In the attic, the Princess makes me promise after promise.

“I’m a virgin and a whore,” she says.

“I’ll give you a night you’ll never forget,” she says.

“I’ll always keep you smiling,” she says.

She leads me over to my father’s mirror. And instead of seeing myself, I see her Kingdom.

“I love you,” she says.

And in turn, I say, “I love you, too.”

What I mean is that I don’t love who she is, but I love who she isn’t.

“Are you ready?” she says.

I nod, and she takes me by the hand, squeezing me a little too hard. I pretend that I don’t notice.

And I jump.

The moment I pass through the mirror, I see the future I’m throwing away. I see a therapist in a Charlie Brown sweater. I see Melody holding my hand after we make love. I see my son with his arms around me at the hospital, and he’s comforting me, even though he’s the one dying. I see Melody smiling for the first time since the funeral. I see millions of mundane miracles.

And after all this, I change my mind, of course. But it’s too late now. This is a one way mirror.

In the Kingdom, the Princess makes good on her promises.

She gives me her virginity, the way she gave her virginity to thousands before me. Of course, by now she’s oozing with mystical STDs, so within minutes of our climax, my penis transmogrifies into a moldy pink potato and falls off.

Later, the Princess finishes me off by tattooing an everlasting smirk on my face.

In the Kingdom, a year feels like a century.

Sometimes, I stand on the stage, juggling my memories while I’m grinning my stupid red grin. I pretend that the voices are laughing with me, and I pretend I’m more of a clown than a joke.

I laugh so hard it hurts.

Posted on: August 15th, 2010 Invisible

by Lisa Martens

The men had on suits, and she couldn’t tell who had a nice body or not. She was a beautiful girl, except for slightly dented nipples, but she never took her top off during these group meetings.

She spread her legs and at that point became absolutely invisible, and the men put their camera phones down and their dicks away, and began to talk amongst themselves the way men talk when they don’t think there’s a woman around. They noticed a faint smell coming from her general direction, and deduced the location the way astronomers guess where two neutron stars are combusting to form bursts of gamma rays.

“Well, the rays travel from this point to that point,” say the astronomers. “So there must be a system of dead binary stars somewhere up . . . here. Or maybe there are aliens having an intergalactic battle. Either way.”

Such was the smell, a thing of guessing, but hardly of interest, and it could really be anything – old sushi, lesbian remnants, anything.

She stood up and became suddenly self-conscious, and took out her makeup mirror to try to look at herself down there. She’d convinced herself, when she was fifteen and saw her best friend naked in the shower, that there was something horribly wrong with her skin down there. She asked her mother to see a dermatologist, and he’d guaranteed that there wasn’t anything wrong with her, that women came in all sorts of colors and some lips were longer or darker than others, and he gave her a pamphlet and her mother had whined that it’d been a waste of a co-pay.

“You should have just showed me. I’ve got dark lips too, hon.”

She shrugged away the memory and took a cigarette out of her purse. First she tried to smoke with style, and pout her lips as she took a drag, and closed her eyes like she was receiving oral sex, and kept one leg bent and another straight for that model-leaning-against-a-wall look, and then relaxed when she remembered that no one was paying attention to her.

“Now I can smoke the way I normally do,” she said to herself. But she didn’t know exactly how that was. What was her natural way of smoking? She’d spent too much time calculating to know her own mannerisms. That’d actually been the whole point of smoking to begin with – to lose weight, to look sexy.

The men didn’t have erections anymore. They had quit their act of cat-calling and jeering and shouting different commands.

“Suck it!”

“No, take two at once!”

“No, no, take it in the ass!”

“One in the pussy and one in the ass, and suck it!”

They’d given each other high fives. They had to top one another, and suggest crazier and crazier things, because men were supposed to like the craziest absolute kinkiest sex possible. Kinky sex turned into sado-masochism turned into rape turned into strangulation and rape turned into rib-cracking machines and black trash bags and chains and being fucked with knives and dead dead dead.

“I’m glad she went away, you know, I thought things were going to get out of hand, and I wasn’t too keen on fucking her. I got a wife and all . . . and I wouldn’t want to give her a disease from some skank.”

Then the men started pulling out their wallets and comparing babies and saying how their sons were the strongest babies ever and their daughters were naturally dainty and how weird it was that nature just knew these things, and it quickly turned into another type of competition, a my baby is more stereotypical contest.

“My boy was thrashing and hitting and, I swear, trying to punch the doctor. I’m thinking he’s gonna be a boxer when he grows up.”

“Mine was kicking like all holy hell. Good thing my wife had a C-section, or she’d still be feeling it. Soccer player, I bet.”

“My baby girl cried and cried, even when my wife held her, and finally the doctor said that sometimes a male presence helps, because the baby feels more safe and secure and protected, and sure enough, the instant I held her, she got quiet . . . .”

And their stories continued in this way and got more and more ridiculous, like astronomers theorizing that a sudden flash of gamma rays killed the dinosaurs like the flash of a camera encapsulating the human race in ice.

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Posted on: August 1st, 2010 A Woman Made of Gold

by Uri Grey

I knew a woman made of gold, not metaphorically but literally. At first glance she looked rather plain; a lanky creature with long limbs and a horsy walk, hiding its splendor inside a boyish frame. The gold didn’t become her. If I hadn’t known she was made of gold I would have thought she suffered from jaundice. She never ate normal food but only minerals: lead, iron, zinc. She ate with such an unpleasant grinding sound. Her favorite delicacy was copper, though her parents could rarely afford it.

By her age, most of our women were already married and occupied with tending to scores of squealing babies and piglets, too busy living the lives of the poor to realize their poverty. She remained unmarried though. She scared men. Some feared she would devour their meager savings when hard times came by, others sought a warm bosom to rest their heads on, not a cold ironing plate; and still others speculated about the nature of their future offspring, and shuddered.

They were poor and weary people who didn’t have the fortitude to make experiments with their lives. They needed wives, not statues or trophies. All they saw was dirt and all they could aspire to was more dirt. But not me; I had imagination, I had ambition, I had will. In her timid metal eyes I saw reflected gold, wealth and power. Some men marry into money, why not skip the middleman and marry the money?

Winning her heart was easy. I had no competition for that prize. I went about it lazily and meticulously, like a spider weaving his web, like a Judas gaining confidence, like a runner racing alone for the gold. So I married her. The ceremony was modest, the parents looked relieved, the guests looked suspicious and the golden bride looked jovial, probably the only person in the village happy about the whole affair.

And so my domestic life began with a woman whom I had married to exploit but didn’t yet know how. If I cut her, what would she bleed? Did she have a heart of gold? If I boiled her until all the tissues dissolved, would I find nuggets at the bottom of the pot? Every night I would stare at her glittering skin. It was plain and unblemished and yet I could read in it a lifetime of hedonistic pleasures away from this pathetic village.

She was a simple creature. Much like a brick of gold, unless moved to action, she would just lounge somewhere in a conservative pose and stare at nothing. This made it easier to view her as an object, easier to locate a man in the city, an alchemist, who claimed to be able to separate anything into its basic components. Easier to convince her to travel with me to see an expert who would check her unique physique, just in case. I prepared an elaborate lie but in truth all this explaining was unnecessary. I could as well have just said, “Get up. Follow me.” and achieved the same effect. Not a person; a thing… an expensive thing.

I was so excited by the alchemist’s discovery that I didn’t wait for spring to journey to the city, but left at the height of winter, the passion in my heart warming me against the blizzard and the frost. We joined a merchant caravan that made its way through the mountains. Our guide was a bitter old adventurer who kept grumbling about wasting his life looking for gold in those barren mountains. I thought he was a fool; gold is not earned through hard work; a broken back is the only reward for this. Gold is earned through guile, cunning, desire.

Wasted life or not, in the end he certainly got our gold. One night he disappeared with a good deal of our supplies, leaving us stranded in a nigh impenetrable terrain with no hope of rescue and rations that would last a week at best. Soon we started throwing hungry glances at each other – merchants are not the sort of people used to denying their desires. They are the sort of people used to feasting on their fellow men, sometimes literarily and sometimes metaphorically. And here is the funny thing – in those frozen mountains, gold is worth less than nothing but flesh, even human flesh, is everything.

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