Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Your dichotomy of reality and transcendence destabilizes as you breathe in the image before you. Ribbons of sunlight seducing piney branches into a dance. The solemn army of trees expanding far beyond your eye’s reach and mind’s curiosity--how combative these columns are beneath moonlight, yet cordial in this moment. A patch of aloof dandelions sitting at the base of one particularly imposing pine, untrampled, undisturbed. Every being, alive or otherwise, bathing in this summer sunset. You can feel this image, this divine assemblance of matter, permeating your senses one at a time. You are delicate in your feasting. You can detect last evening’s rainstorm lingering in the damp earth. The kind yet invigorating pine aroma, once an unfamiliarity to you, grounds your soul. You are not somewhere elusive; this image is not a luxury. You are home. You are where you belong. A last inhale, then onto the next sense. The punctual cicadas in their usual evening symphony. The suspension of stillness. The occasional, unassuming rustling of leaves as the true inhabitants of this sprawling wood go about their own evening; perhaps this image is much more ordinary and less divine for these creatures. You begin to feel a certain gratitude and sincerity in existence that you have never felt; were it not for your humanness, this image would certainly be dulled and hold little to no significance.

The feeling of your tea going cold also permeates your senses--this time, all at once and not deliciously.

Your tea-making is a ceremony, very much like the clockwork of the cicadas’ symphony, and on this particular summer night you choose chamomile in an attempt to soothe your boundless energy. You would think that it’s the sunrises that energize you, but you are not one for ungodly early mornings. No, sunsets and their brilliance, their boldness--you much prefer the sky at its most possibly saturated. The sun’s impassioned egress from the sky restores you, renews your strength. You were born during such a farewell.

No tea should be wasted, you think. So you gulp down your chamomile in all its sanguine coldness. The state of this tea is simply meant to be consumed; forget about the savoring. You decide you will treat yourself to another helping of today’s dinner since you do not feel satiated.


There are few things you are certain you love in this lifetime. Absolutely certain.

Surrounding your heartspace is an infrastructure that you have engineered and assembled piece by piece since adolescence formed its blueprint. It is not a fortress. It is no longer a towering military base, and you are now proud of that. The infrastructure is a playpen, a grounds for youthful joy as you receive every little thing you are given because after all, those who receive light give out light.

Nevertheless, playpens are never built for permanent residence. Two years. Four years. Nine years. And then what? The daily conversations become monthly catching-ups become yearly bites of a text message become nothing as time has eroded everything in its torrential conquest: the wounding, the loving, the illusion of longevity. You are grateful for the select few who still uncontrollably laugh and run around and rough-house in your playpen to this day. You grant these soulmates eternal access--they are never capable of trespassing. And you have carved a home in their heartspaces in return; you still thoroughly enjoy taking refuge in a secluded, familiar stone castle. Your best friend in this lifetime has given you her spare key to it.

Still, there are few things you are certain you love. His hands happen to be the first of these few things.

You have looked at them, stared at them, touched them, held them, allowed them to roam you for who can tell how long, but time’s torrential conquest knows better than to come near this.
His robustness indicates that veins do not belong on his hands, that their presence should not exist in comparison to the rest of him, yet there they are: the most delicate rivers flowing through the backside of his palms, flowing through and into you.