April 8, 2015

Christian Bell

Blue Cotton Candy

Standing at her kitchen window, she drowns in blue sky and ocean. His favorite color, the world bursting with it. No escape, not even the islands. Blue lollipops, cotton candy, popsicles—anything that painted his tongue blue. Whatever it was, however unnatural, his little fingers wanted it in blue.

She had recurring dreams of their last day together. Walking through carnival gates. Calliope music, game barkers. A collection of rickety rides plopped down on once green grass turned yellow. The roller coaster creaking as it rumbled over the track's highest part, fears of it collapsing into a scrap heap. The next day's real life nightmare: a thumping knock, the long faces of officers who must be fathers. Falling to her knees.

The village nearby full of kids, their eyes a painful reminder. This tropical paradise, water so clear you could see the sand. Fluorescent fish swim in lazy schools. Gentle breezes, the caws of bright-colored birds, the horns of departing cruise ships. Her house, painted in coral pink and teal with spotless floors, a museum of his pictures, memories.

In the distance a ship moves patiently through time. She imagines him standing on the deck, looking to shore, his lips smeared in blue confection. She waves, hopes maybe he can see.

French Fries

He left the house saying he was walking but was really going for french fries. Canto's Pizza, three blocks away. His wife would say, don't get them, remember your heart, our healthy lifestyle. Ten years since the procedure, he'd say, and we moved to the city to walk places, get exercise. His doctor's words—moderation, and forget the salt.

Tuesdays she worked afternoons at the bookstore, and he'd secretly go, buy a large order, sit in a corner with a newspaper. Fries covered in vinegar, veins of ketchup. Like sunny beach days of his youth, free-flowing arteries, greasy boardwalk food. Sunlight toasting his back, he'd swim to that dangerous spot where the ocean could swallow him. At night, he'd lie in bed, feel the ocean's rush all over again.

So this Tuesday, immersed in his paper and food, he heard a familiar voice: his wife's. She ordered pizza and onion rings, food he'd not seen her have in ten years, sat in a different corner and read. Oblivious to him. The paper as shield, he peeked at her occasionally enjoying the food. He wanted to stand, say, what about eating healthy, but she looked young, happy. Every Tuesday could be a date, he thought, he lurking as her secret admirer, the two of them living unhealthy.


Christian Bell lives near Baltimore, Maryland. His fiction has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and JMWW Quarterly, among other publications.

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