International Fiction Editor
Robert Hill Long
The goal of Del Sol Review is to publish the best work available anywhere, and only the best work. We do not compromise the publication due to political considerations, and we do not publish inferior work simply because a "name" tag comes attached. We do not publish writers because of their connections to us or anyone else. We reject such activities as harmful to the art. We publish a new issue only when we deem it ready.
- Michael Neff
Del Sol Review
Published by Web del Sol
2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Fall 2009, #16
"Woodchuck vs. the Hank Williams Zombie"
Flowers Lose Their Smell
by Alka Roy
I don’t want to get out of bed today, but I do. Faraway, a little boy in a sullied t-shirt bites a mosquito that flies into his half-open mouth. The boy’s mother covers his bare bottom and puts an amulet in black thread around his arm to save him. I move mechanically: toothpaste, soap, shower, hot and cold water, flush, milk, cereal, news and a toasted sesame bagel with fresh butter from the weekly farmer’s market. It is raining outside but I don’t pick up an umbrella. Over the mountains I have never crossed, a monk in a jail cell shields his face from a baton. Somewhere closer than that, a man planning to kill his wife “in the act” with her sister’s husband, cleans his gun.
The monk in his jail cell also has a decision to make. Fifty men stand cramped in a small rancid cell. They are given rice but it is hard to eat. Names! The jailors shout. The monk fights against his urge to harm the jailors. Most of all, he tries emptying his head of names.
I call home but no one picks up the phone. Since my brother’s name was mentioned as one of the casualties, my mother keeps watching or listening to the news whenever she’s awake. She sometimes repeats after them. Yesterday I heard her say: These are, by far, the lowest number of casualties we have had this year. I decide to cheat on my diet with two scoops of my brother’s favorite ice cream. The ice cream gets on my hands and mouth. Without washing it off, I go to a store I have never been to and try on a really short skirt that I wouldn’t dare to wear out of fear that I might have to suddenly bend to pick something up.
What is important is not how the day ended but that it ended. And that without questioning its futility or the outcome, the next day began. Dogs barked, ran and slid on wet roads. The morning train whistled three times, as regulated, near neighborhood crossings. Children laughed, scratched where they felt like scratching, and stared at the same object for hours. Someone moving fast stood still and noticed that it made no difference. Someone standing still for a long time got a nudge and started moving, slowly at first and then faster, barely remembering how it had felt to stand still.