Fiction from C.B. Auder

Photo by Bruce Jastrow


If I could fly away. Or never need sleep. Because it’s in my dreams that I murder my mother, get dive-bombed by my brother. Crash into glass walls, race the rails of stilt-legged stairs, stalk the bamboo-caged gloom of snake-filled snares and taxonomy halls. I thrill to hug my pets, then dream-remember I turned them to ash.

But sometimes my father and I, we just eat.

Dad’s himself, except actually alive. Polite, distracted. Oblivious to the baffling decor of the rococo trattoria he picked. Our grub hasn’t arrived before he’s eyeing his watch. Eager to return to his girlfriend’s roost after a quick hug and peck and See ya. See ya. See ya later.

We’re eggshell experts. I beam across the fine linen landscape. Munch a repulsive quinoa salad as though existence is by nature oddly nutty and why-nottish. The good egg’s first rule: Do not crack. If Dad senses there’s a Suzuki Swift lurching through a future light, he won’t even be wishboned in peace.

I wake hollow as a freshly-cleaned duck. Drained by feigned cheer. Like I’ve kept one night-eye open to wrap Tweets around all the world’s broken wings. I want only to sleep.

To sleep, for fuck’s sake. To pick and rip at the flattened remains of grief, rather than brave and soar above the simple grating cluck-and-rev of my neighbor’s rusting Chevy truck.

This wish for REM relief is a twisted beak–some dew-clawed need to exchange gifts of broken love through half-feathered dreams. Let’s ankle-tag them properly: lies.

And still the answers hover too high. Above and beyond, ceiling-hard. A safe night’s flight always one trigger out of reach.

Too soon, school buses screech and grumble past. The cardinal returns. Red-faced and tilt-headed. Like he still can’t fathom the plucked-nightjar nightmare of a human brain.

He claims his perch on the sill. Cheeps his cocksucking little koan through my no-see-um screens: You want? You want? Then chew. Chew, chew, chew.


C.B. Auder‘s writing and art have recently appeared in The Disappointed Housewife, Cotton Xenomorph, Moonchild, OCCULUM, and Unbroken. Find Aud on Twitter @cb_auder.

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