Norma can’t find my name. With her eyes fixed hard on my face, she searches bright, empty corridors, digs along pebbled shorelines stippled with geysers of lavender brush, feels under the seat cushion of a grounded ski lift in summer. I point to the snack on the table next to her bed. It’s Ron, it’s no bother. Let’s eat. She forms an empty cavern with her mouth, lips stretched purple. I spoon up something butterscotch and she squeezes my forearm when I stand to leave. Dan’s crew cut is outrageously overgrown and he curses me when I walk into his room, says I’m AWOL. I laugh and tell him the barber’s plane was shot down over St. Louis. His eyes go wide as he exclaims I knew it! and considers the bowl of pretzels I brought. His roommate murmurs maple syrup in his sleep as I steal past. Sigrid says here comes the big boss when I carry her sewing tray in with what new supplies they could muster in Rec. She props up on elbows and swings skinny legs out from her bed in excitement. I get her settled in her chair and refill her water as she sorts through the spools and swatches. I get on the half-full bus and find a seat toward the back. I watch the blocks of people and taverns and corner stores pass glistening in a new rain. A man has an argument with the driver. He marches down the length of the bus and turns to me, holding a live pigeon. My eyes refuse his face, his hands are dirty clutching the bird, his pants are unzipped. He throws the pigeon at my head and it explodes away from us and someone on the bus yells hey! The man says to me, spitting, you know what, motherfucker? I squeeze past him and get off ten blocks early. The neon sign in the window asks me in and I agree. I sit at the bar next to a woman in a tube top. I put my face in my hands and through my fingers all I can see is the deep red countertop, as clean and delicious as a nightmare.
Marc Tweed is a self-taught painter, writer, and musician living in the Pacific Northwest. His work explores themes such as alienation, catastrophe, real-life monsters, and elements of nature – often all at once. Marc’s story, Senescence, appeared in Potato Soup Journal in 2020 and he’s working on a collection titled Seasick on Land: Stories by Marc Tweed.