Ben Pearce is sitting across from his mom in the diner they’ve been going to once or twice a month for like, twenty some odd years. They’ve got these dull-colored paper placemats in front of them, on top of which sit two off-white ceramic cups of coffee. Some of the lightbulbs above them probably should have been replaced awhile ago, too, because everything’s drenched in lighting so dim it feels sketchy.
Posts Categorized: Indiana Review Online: an Undergraduate Project
I have a memory of us together in the teacup ride at the state fair a block away from my house, where the cups were advertising Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. It was freshman year of high school. We grabbed the wheel in the middle and spun, and our macaroni bowl turned and turned, and without a real warning it got fast, fast so that we slid around in our seats and our laughter twisted in the air and our fingers tied knots on the wheel. We slapped each other’s wrists and bumped our knees and pulled our heads—I couldn’t tell whose hair blew in my face or whose hand waved in front of me; it all flatlined, just a mess of limbs and screams. We melted, dripped onto the floor, mixed together, came up and leaked out the sides. There wasn’t a me and a you. It was just us, swirling in the macaroni bowl.
I met you bloody, a year before. You sat in the road, making a noise somewhere between a moan and a scream. What I don’t think I ever told you is that I saw you doing it before you fell. Seated at the window, drinking milk, I watched you glide down the street, standing on the seat of your bike, glinting light into my eyes when you leaned into a turn, smiling—you were smiling—and finally slipping, crashing so the bike toppled and tossed you onto the blacktop.
I found out later you were a talented gymnast, but when I called the ambulance I didn’t know your name. I dragged you and your bike out of the road and I remember the soft whimpers you gave as your ankle bounced along, the achy complaints of heat and pain, of being unable to tell where one stopped and the other began. The ambulance arrived and I hopped in. No one tried to kick me out, so I rode with you to the hospital.
Let the smoke inhabit your space
Relinquish all inhibitions; release
Pink plastic beads strung round my neck for Mardi Gras,
relic of my girlhood like Tamagotchis & Silly Bandz &—carry this,
it’s Zinfandel, the type of wine my mother used to sip before bedtime,
eyes welling with unshed tears. Three flasks bundled
into a flannel shirt we’ll be late
for the party placed tenderly into my dumbstruck arms.
Go on now into the hallway crackling with silence,
into the gasping night. & I—& I, all gaping wide-eyed wonder—
I’m acting so terribly young tonight.
Still, these are the things about which
I’ll write: dollar-store mascara clumping
like darkened snow, a dim halo dismantling
my upturned face, bare skin brooking no lies—so yes,
maybe I’ll play pretend for just a while
here, in this strange world light years from my own
here, with this boy who swears I’m indestructible.
Indiana Review Online seeks submissions of poetry, short prose (fiction and non-fiction), and art from undergraduate writers.* Indiana Review, in collaboration with Indiana University-Bloomington’s Literary Editing & Publishing class, will curate an online space for emerging writers and artists from across the country and around the world. We are open to a variety of styles–everything from realism and satire to the supernatural and experimental forms. We feel strongly about representing diverse voices and identities, including young writers of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and women. Give us your carefully strange writing: your nature poems and political poems, your dark humor fiction, your personal essays about pop culture, family, fairy tales, etc. We especially encourage previously unpublished authors to submit.