Four Fictions
Jennifer Pieroni

We Live Here Now

I don't know if my talents, of which you said I have many, will help me dismiss the graffiti of tenant ghosts, the initials along the floorboards, notes left to suck and blow and die. It is hard enough without you here. The cat doesn't know where he lives anymore, but he recognizes the slick sill of the tub, the familiar humidity of a long shower. It doesn't matter who it is under the flow. I think he is drawn to the scent of the eucalyptus rinse. I towel off and we leave our prints in the hall, his and mine. Come and find us. If you would just look for us, we have left the light on. We are the bloat under the covers.

Passage to the Sky

All day I went blind, snowshoeing our boyhood trail. The snow was hard and bright. The sky was blue alive. Night came and we camped by the lake, hot slivers of wind whipping in through the flap. My brother heated Minestrone on a Sterno, pre-slicing butter and bread. We unlaced our boots and lined them up by the flap, identical pair. He told me to take off my socks and check for bruises. I told him I paid for sex not just once. I said our toes are ugly. We are the same all the way except for the blush that spreads from behind his ears.

Borrowing Trouble

I don't look at the needle or the vials, but at your feet squeaking on the tiles. My veins can't be in protest, thin blue passages that anatomy dictates should be there, but you say are not. One thing I did was give up alcohol and caffeine as instructed, so, no, I don't have any advice. My doctors never took blood regularly, maybe because where I lived they wouldn't like to borrow trouble. Your sneakers are black, which must mean you are the odd sheep of the laboratory, that you are a dark one. I wonder what you would look like smoking a bong, alone, or with people who aren't your friends. I'm not asking which tests you are running. My husband says I never ask the right questions, that I'm so anxious to be discharged I turn into a horse in blinders, a doodle on the page, a woman leaving.


After the intervention, she goes with him for a walk by the waterfront. They pass a baseball field where he says he used to play. She tells him she never knew. He says his girlfriend at the time never went to the games so it must be something psychological that he never mentioned it. She lights a cigarette and pulls a straw for him from her purse. He chews it a little before folding it into his pocket and holds his hand out for the real thing, always with the preference for the real thing. The beach is wet and cool. He drifts off the path to walk out on the jetty while she hangs back, finishing her cigarette. She rounds the path to the playground, remembering the time a lightning storm came through and they hid under the slide, the strikes taking her apart. He finishes by the water and follows her to the play area, climbing the wooden structure to lay on the rope mesh bridge, his legs too long to fit its kid-sized-span. She begins to sense her pain return, the bleeding a symptom of her body's health even though it doesn't feel that way. She goes to rest on the tire swing, already swaying, another imperceptible earthquake that only she is sensitive enough to notice.