TJS2WP&PI (Timber Journal Summer 2014 Web Prose & Poetry Issue) TOC (table of contents)

 

TJS2WP&PI


Prose

“July in Montana” by Jon Chaiim McConnell
& companion interview

Audio of “Tunnelling” by Tania Hershman

“The Tub” by Taylor McGill
& companion interview

“FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT” by Rose Wednesday
& companion interview

“Common Usage” by Reem Abu-Baker
& companion interview

Interviews with members of the Rutgers & Columbia MFAs

“A Shopping Center at Night” by Matthew Barrett
& companion interview

“Some Filament Abroad” by Anthony Martin
& companion interview

“Rivers” by Melanie Madden
& companion interview

“NOAP Notes: Narrative, Objective, Assessment, Plan” by Shira Richman
& companion interview

“Leaves and Pinecones” by Eric Hawthorn
& companion interview

Poetry

“How to Lens: Music as Mediator in Andrew Zawacki’s Videotape” (a review by Alexis Smith)

“Nocturne with Boy Throwing Stones at Stars” by Doug Paul Case

“Jezebel and Zephyr: The Last Proto-War Comedy” by Jessie Janeshek

Poems by Tony Mancus

Translated Works of Dolores Dorantes by Jen Hofer
& companion interview

July in Montana by Jon Chaiim McConnell

It was a summer of little and drought and as the cookout approached my father sat me down to ask which of our three dogs I disliked the most. Our only few relatives were up from Abilene, he said, and they had brought their fireworks and hunger.

By the afternoon we’d all met and I ended up with the two older cousins, the teenagers, Marimar the girl and her pale brother Caleb, and as these were days of trust we walked to the creek edge of the depleted ranch with ourselves for supervision and a satchel full of Bingo Bangas. My brother I made promise to stay home with the adults and the other young kids and I told him One day you’ll come with me. But then he cried until I flecked him at the ear with my ring finger and thought Well I should be the one who’s crying, and I told him so, and, when he asked Why, we remembered the way Gracie would nip our shoelaces undone at the dinner table before tugging them off down the hall. So, he quieted himself.

It turned out, as we went along, that Marimar and Caleb were both pretty learned about the family and about our northern way of things and Marimar seemed to like twisting her black hair around her finger before bringing up some next observation of hers.

She said, “Well your Dad and our Dad had been fighting for years.”

And I asked, “What about?”

“No it’s less that,” Caleb said, “and more a disagreement. You know.”

“Well are you gonna tell me or won’t you,” I said.

We set a firework each to the cracks and old scars of a long dead box elder and stepped away until we could see just how well it shadowed against the hill.

“It was a disagreement,” Marimar said, “about their own Dad and what was gonna happen when he died.”

“What was gonna happen?” I asked.

And Caleb said, “He had money.”

“He had some thousands of dollars and didn’t leave any papers saying where it’d go,” Marimar said.

“So who got it all?” I asked.

And they smiled to each other and looked me up and down without I think meaning to.

Caleb asked, “Are you going to light them?”

And Marimar searched her dark hands through her hair a moment before pulling a bent wad of matches from her bobble. She looked at me and I kept my hands in my pockets until she understood, and then she started forward and said, “Happy Fourth,” with a flat voice and flaring palms.

It was a few weeks later in Texas that we were given an entire guest room to share. My brother set his two books and a pocketwatch that, before parting, our mother had given him into a small shrine beneath the baseboard convector. I told him to be careful and he asked if I had anything to add. Before their take off together homeless to Kansas City our father had given me a baseball card wrapped in wax paper, so I handed him that. Unopened. He said Thank you, and at night while I’m soaking my charred feet in the tub he makes me pray for their safety amidst The Midwestern vagabonds or whatever next evil it is he’s learned about through his comics. Sometimes I tell him I’ve learned enough. Like how a dust will not burn but when a dust is carbon and chaff and the mashings of steer soil it will and the fire will stay low enough to take only your shoes before carrying on to the house that will bend quickly to the black foundation.

At dinner we talk about the day. There is Marimar and Caleb and their parents and the two smaller ones, boys, one in diapers still, and they’re involved in swimming lessons and struggling to line dance at the town hall and gathering the confidence to speak for the first time in formed thoughts. In some respective order. When they get to us I say Oh I’ve been reading, though of course I haven’t, and my brother nicks his butter knife into the edge of their mahogany table with a small twitch habit he’s taken on. He tells them he’s about ready to see his way around town, make some friends maybe. He’s seen kids his age passing along the sidewalk.

My uncle says, “There’s an idea, there,” and then he looks at me.

Marimar looks with him and when her burn scarred forehead purples into a blush I’d like to say that I hate her. That I something. She burned our house down and I only something. She breaks eye contact and I’ll need to talk with her later.

“Do you think you’re able to take your brother out around the neighborhood one of these days?” her mother asks.

“I’d take him,” Caleb says, “if I had the time.”

“You do have the time,” my uncle says, snapping. “Or you will. I just mean,” he says, turning back to me, “you could take him sooner, before the weekend. If you’re able.”

And I say, “I’d be glad to.”

For the rest of the week I find myself walking the town a good hundred feet behind my brother somewhat at his instructions. Mostly we pass back and forth through 1st Street until we’re pink with heat and heavy with sweat and he returns to me so that I’ll squeeze his hair back and buy him an ice cream. But on Friday we find kids and a softball game in a long yellowing lot and he leaves me at a run to join them. I take my shirt off to lay as a cushion over the single scalding bleacher.

He has fun. I can tell. They like him and they’ve moved beyond teams to play in a cycling mass with shoed divots in the baseless dirt. A boy with a cut of towel wrapped along his eyebrows fouls a second strike into the small backstop fence and it gets stuck and all the friends cheer. They take the bat around the other side of the chainlink and swing until it pops free and by consensus the day is ruled a tie. Soon my brother leads them approaching me.

A boy says, “We hear your family burned down.”

And another boy says, “We hear you’ll buy us ice cream.”

“Let me tell you what I’ll do,” I say, and I stand and hold my shirt to cool in the wind.

I tell them a story. I tell them about a space on consuming earth where I can watch the laces on my shoes ignite so quickly that I won’t feel it for weeks. About a billowing aurora that smells like pine shingles and hinge grease and my father’s melted truck tires. I tell them about my brother, who never listens to me, who broke his promise not to follow, hidden and breaching the muck of the creek behind us the only one entirely unscathed with a gasp for breath so loud and so beautiful that all we can do is raise into the sky and twist our small fingers together the every last one.

Jon Chaiim McConnell (@JonMcConn) is the Fiction Editor of Split Lip Magazine, and a graduate of the Emerson College MFA program. His work has appeared previously in Moon City Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Requited, and The Knicknackery.

Read Timber prose editor Bird Marathe’s interview with Jon Chaiim McConnell.

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Tunnelling by Tania Hershman (audio version)

 
Read the print version of “Tunnelling” by Tania Hershman, published in Timber Journal, here.

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