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IR Online Fiction: “S” by Sarah Purow-Ruderman

In the deep grotto behind the house, S was blowing on my wrists and scalp and in between my toes where it tickled. S that tickles, I whispered. When the words came out of my mouth, they were eaten by the bat that swooped down and then settled under S’s armpit. Shh, S said. Shhhhhhhhh, S said. Her shh went rushing through my ears and down into the catacombs where the people lay, and it moved their chests up and down like bellows blowing on a flame.

S and I came out of the grotto, and we sat in the field where the wheat had been. We sat on the ghosts of the wheat, and our weight squeezed the small wheat ghosts into the ground where they shriveled and cried like newspaper in the beginnings of a flame.

Through the windows of the house, I could see how empty it was. The windows
broken open, the curtains torn down and spread across the floor and over the furniture. Look at the cloud over the mountain, S said. Look at the way the fire roars, S said. She pointed to a chair in the house covered with a curtain of dust.

She pointed to the fireplace with ashes spilling out like smoke from my open mouth.


Sarah Purow-Ruderman is currently in her third year at Oberlin College, majoring in Creative Writing and East Asian Studies. Inspired by Richard Brautigan and her fear of longer works, she focuses mostly on small or modular prose forms. Her work has been featured in the VHSL Creative Writing Competition and on www.bldg.cc.