Congratulations to Brian Foster for his story, “Killing Jessica” which was chosen as a part of our New Voices series — a collection of stories from emerging authors who have not published a novel-length work. We loved this story because it’s full of death and despair, but not in a way you might expect. It’s also brilliantly written. Great work, Brian.
For more information on our New Voices series, visit our submissions page.
by Brian Foster
The romantics call it an ebb and flow, suggesting that life comes and goes rather smoothly. Peacefully is the implication. With such a phrase at hand one can imagine a beach with the tide pulling at twelve-year-old toes as sand castles dissolve beneath gentle waves. Your pocket full of rattling sand dollars and your mother spread in bronze across a sunset-colored towel; it makes a lovely picture.
They’re romantics for a reason. Put a couple decades under your belt, refuse to die at the age of 25, and that life you wanted to call a sun-bathed beach becomes the suburbs, an endless line of unobtrusive colonials in varying shades of beige. The suburbs, your life, roll onward and onward until you reach the end, a wall of rebar and cement, still unobtrusively beige yet not itself unobtrusive. Often, by the time it comes, it seems as if it has been there all along, just waiting beyond the next block to drop you in the gutter.
Then, unexpectedly or expectedly, there it is, only the flow. Never steady but punctuated with an exclamation mark every time the aortic valve spasms. Those same shutters spread crimson tides ever outward from jerking, twitching limbs. Meanwhile the eyelids flutter rapidly, a firestorm of wasted weekends passing through memory’s projector.
Trust me, I’ve seen it enough to know, nothing about this transition is pretty. There’s nothing to suggest anything similar to an ebb and flow; nothing peaceful about it in the least. Whether you’re shitting your Depends in a dilapidated nursing home or laid out on an operating table spilling everything on the emergency room floor that you’d spent the last 26 years putting inside you doesn’t matter. The nurses use the same protein-destroying disinfectant to wipe you off their furniture.
To read the rest of “Killing Jessica” click here.