Fiction from Robert Vaughan
We’d read our book reports aloud in my treehouse. He’d read first. His dimples and his cupid lips. He played clarinet and on the opposite side of the room, I blew the baritone. He never looked at me during Band.
Walked him to his dentist appointment in 7th grade. Went back to his house to play Mario Brothers. Our vice-principal, Mr. Nash, showed up at his door. We hid in his parent’s closet.
You didn’t need me at all. Your eyes were a room. Your lower body was a suggestion. It was like cats in water—they’ll sit in the sink waiting for you to turn on the faucet.
I hope you are in the depths of a new invention. Far away from the trailer and the chain-linked fence. That picnic table. I imagine you in a canoe, on some Wisconsin lake.
When I close my eyes, I can see our tennis matches. Balls bouncing, aces, winners, losers and set points. The cool August evenings. The ache of school looming.
Robert Vaughan is an award-winning author, playwright, and teacher. His books include Microtones (Cervena Barva, 2012), Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps, 2013), Addicts & Basements (CCM, 2014), RIFT (Unknown Press, 2015), Funhouse (Unknown Press, 2016), and ASKEW (Cowboy Jamboree, 2022). He was twice the runner-up for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction. His work has been widely anthologized, including the New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (W.W. Norton, 2018) and Best Small Fictions 2016 and 2019 (Sonder Press). His plays have been produced in S.F., N.Y.C., and Milwaukee. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Bending Genres. www.robert-vaughan.com