Her searching eyes stuck in a patch of gleam, the forward rippling ocean. Mounting
sand dunes, the man swells into a throbbing shape. Ascending the dune the man slides
a smudge in his alligator boots. He struggles against the sea-grass. Hey he calls out. The
puckering ocean stitching the sand into the smoke water. I like your dress he says. Thanks
she says I got it on sale. He says I can’t tell. She says This fabric is itch-worthy
don’t care. Grasping the sand in his wide open palms, clutching its natural pulp.
woman lets her knees drip against his terse, they stare at the particles of trash who pucker
the shore. She says There’s a dead seagull at your feet. He says Well. A seagull at
hull of his boot where the sun beats no relief. Its limp eyes, its glass eyes, adore its misfortune
yes. Its body limp on the sand in a splash, crooked, bizarre. Its no-luster wings
in a dizzy near a paper towel, coagulated in brine, struggles against the landscape
woman her stethoscope scalp is hot, she spindles inside her inner-map and fine
of granules beneath her toes, between fingers and elbows. Inside she is palpable
space of black and quietude the woman splashes and splashes in herself, she scrapes
her oxygen against her topography, until the land scars. She’s finished. Sound is zipped
in a plastic bag. Death as cost of exchange, the man consigns his ear close to the
chest, his knees ajar and knocking. Heat beats in her ear like the ear of a clock.
bird is still alive he speaks puckering his lips. I’ll have to kill it myself to shield it
a slow miserable… He stands up suddenly a harbinger, shrewd and composing a
shadow across the woman who is prostrate on the bride beach licked in litter,
drunk, her blood shouts into the edges of her levers. The man’s watch slides on
bulge wrist, grabbing the gull at its unbearable margins. Twisting its neck, a slow
bones puncture bird-skin, a sickle-crunch fetters the air like perfume, a solid blue
flies off the handle body of the bird, its blood spurts in an arch, slicing the atmosphere,
its inside-heart smells like the gutter’sinside, oil, ripe gasoline, car-parts, factory-
accidents and woman is nervous struck by its accidental blood among the perfume sewage.
She says, You’ve pulled its head off. The sand is speckled in a flag of blood. He
I guess so. I guess I don’t know my own strength. In one hand he holds its head, in
other hand its body. Can you put it back together she says. He says I don’t
so. From a distant lump, an ore smoke blows quietly from a factory. Inside the gull’s
the sun is blinking like a fume. Plop. He drops the gullparts. He drops the death at
feet, and they stare. Necessary. A flare of chartreuse blood smirks on the man’s
He looks down, says, This sucks. He looks cold, this heat is frozen and hot. He says,
need to buy some detergent. His eyes buried inside a what. Relaxed like television,
woman is strewn, elegant. We can buy some on the way home, she nods. Laughing her
mouth spreads. A candy wrapper. She tastes like she burns.
Vanessa Saunders is the editor-in-chief of Helium Journal. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is currently an MFA candidate at LSU. She has previously been published in Stockholm Literary Review, Lighthouse Journal, Haight Ashbury Literary, and others.