Jesse Jarnow

the animals i saw, no. 10

(Short fiction in shorter increments.)

The Animals I Saw: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10

On the final day, there were dragonflies. They swarmed down each street, above the dock, and across the visible horizon. Their wings beat at a low frequency, like the hum of distant transformers. The weather was perfect, the sky a painted blue. From the basement — a basement added by Abe Lewis — I removed a box of china, my mother’s, to mail her in Sarasota.

The last filings would have to be made, but I knew how to do that; knew whose office down which hallway in what building to address them. I would not return to school that semester, I knew. “In January, I think, I’ll be back,” I wrote my girlfriend, who I did not expect to wait for me, and who didn’t. Abe Lewis would find out what I had: that in times of natural disaster, the duties of a public official override those of a private individual. In pulling the house from the lake, Abe Lewis was acting as deputy mayor, not a contractor. His subsequent possession of the house was unlawful. I would not be the one to tell him.

I thought, briefly, of my shadow cousin, who’d lived there while we’d been away. His memories were present in me now, an adolescence spent carefree on the cool water. Misshapen, they roamed my brain like benevolent spirits; they grew like pungent weeds between weathered planks. It was an exchange, I knew. He would know long before his grandfather. I thought of what I might be taking from him, and what I might be giving to him, delivered on the sagging exoskeletons of dragonflies, terrible and broken. [/END]

1 Comment

  1. Randy Ray says: - reply

    A wickedly sharp tale in a barely noticeable yet movingly symmetrical idiom. More, please.

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