I’m pleased to announce that my 2015 is still going strong, this time in the form of an honorable mention in the Thompson Writing Awards! (Which, personally, gives me deja vu from last year until I remind myself that this year the category was fiction, rather than creative-non.)
And, in case any of you need incentivizing to do so, there’s a teaser for you below the picture and the cut.
From The Itch
A dying man looks out a frosted window.
He watches the world trail away as the Rio Grande chugs out of Salida, grinding away from the platform. It departs with a screech owl trill, spewing a fountain of ash and steam between the morning’s bony fingers. Day breaking on the Sawatch turns granite mountains’ saw teeth into crowns and halos that rake at the bellies of clouds turned hard and cold by the arrival of September. He watches as the view melts away, hidden behind the curtain of rising slopes; trees, peaks, and open spaces passing away, quicker, quickening, as the railroad departs from the Arkansas to faster flee the sunrise. The dying man watches the saw teeth halos go, doubled over in his seat.
The bandage patching the hole in his chest scratches his skin beneath his clothes. An old shirt. It had been nice when he bought it; a new travelling shirt for a new family in a new world. It was white, then. When they were in Italy. White, like snowcaps made of stitching. There were no mines in Italy, nothing to turn the fabric black. But it’s an old shirt now, gone black as his lungs.
The bandage beneath, however, is orange and brown. It hurts more than the hole; his ragged edge skin itches. Itches under black and orange and brown. Under the Mine Colors. He’s dressed in his work, looking like oxidizing copper, or tailings poured down the hillside: like the mountain’s viscera spilling from man made mouths between weatherworn wooden teeth, between cart tracks and support beams and meandering tramlines. The bandage even smells like the mines, like metal and rot. Like what his lungs must smell like. Like the dust that chokes the valleys, that shivers in the vibrations of sledge on spike. Shivers like the windowsill of a passenger carriage on the Rio Grande railroad, somewhere outside of Salida. A town whose name means Exit.