Two Fictions
Derek White

The Sperm Count of Lava(r)

This is the account of how I learned to wash my own clothes by hand. The women had formed a society down by the lakeshore. The men were out on the water in boats with butterfly nets. And there was 'I'.
Sometimes the women found these remnants in our pockets:
Hard currency
Magmaš brand screws (still in package)
Bibles with Y's cut into the pages (for slingshots)
Stains from Fish in the Ashes
Strings of three 2 oz. weights
These items carried their own intrinsic values. After scrubbing the clothes with pumice and soap on corrugated rocks, the women hung them to dry. The clothes and sheets were draped over bushes. There was nothing to hang a line from. The sun was at an 85-degree slant. The goats grazed in the circles allowed by their tethered ropes. Our clothes and pillowcases were inside out. Our pockets were inverted for the conscious world to see.
For these reasons 'I' chose to wear my clothes into the courtyard shower for the first 9 months. This was the inverse of natural nudity (even if the drain inevitably led to the lake).
While the clothes drip-dried in the Nobel Sweatbath:
The men tilted and scooped.
The seamstress warped and weaved.
The fish died from the bleach.
The moon waned 2 degrees.
Our protein became denatured.
There were no automated cycles. No calibration machines. No lint. No self-conscious natural selection. Before the men dipped their nets, they spit saliva into their palms. The woman carried the loaded basins home, balanced on their heads-the same defiant posture and the same basins they used to carry the maza before sunrise. The clothes were ironed and then folded so we could wear them again beneath the volcano that we all took for granted.

Hicky Elasticity Calculation

We took aim at the duck butts with our slingshots, while their heads were busy filtering through the debris underwater. We aimed to barely miss. In the evenings we shot at the bats and they in turn dove towards the rocks we shot at them. The very first time Corn Tassel even tried, she hit a bat head on. We had never seen a bat up close. Its eyes were closed, but we were sure it must have been blind before it died to let itself get hit in the first place.
Corn Tassel was Marsha. Taking the bat as an omen, she stopped shooting and studied the trajectories of the stones I continued to shoot so she could draw them later. When I went with her down to the lake to make out (sans my slingshot), she had to urinate the second she put her foot in the water. She feared when we had no excuse to go down to the shore. Her fear of me made me uncomfortable (Marsha bruised at the slightest contact with any manmade objects.)
The ducks came closer when I didn't have a slingshot around my neck. It was broad daylight and there were no bushes or rocks to go behind. Marsha peed right there in her navy blue gym shorts. I pretended not to notice but I couldn't help thinking that the shrimp tail I was chasing was soaked in urine.
A dog came out of nowhere and chased the ducks back out. It was nobody's dog. It was afraid of the women who were washing clothes, but the dog came right up to Marsha and licked her face and started sniffing down her body. Marsha was not Corn Tassel. At least Not Right Now.
While she was preoccupied with holding the dog away, I stole a look at her wet gym shorts. Her inner thigh had a moth-shaped bruise that was mustard-colored on the fringes. Marsha was losing herself at an alarming rate. Her skin was jaundiced, but alluring. Her head was cocked back away from the dog, laughing. She said "stop it," although she meant, "I love it". She had forgotten about the dark wet spot in her crotch. I wanted to plant one right then and there on her neck to prove to the world that I recognized this beauty. But there were no vulnerabilities in the perfection of her neck to attach to. And it didn't matter because the men came in from the lake with their catch and everyone stopped what they were doing, including the dog.