Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 28

28 | Psychopomp Magazine

hung heavy in the air. That morning she had sat on the fire escape, drinking coffee brewed from her last reserve of instant grinds and potato peels, watched the storm front creep up on the horizon. She had been saving the day for errands, for running into the town center for groceries, for hanging laundry on the line, but if she did not finish before the clouds broke their swollen bellies on her neighbors’ peaked roofs she would lose her work to a deluge of mud. Even now, the soil clumped wetly with pre-thunderstorm moisture, sloshing around in the hole she dug for wooden roots.

A roaring cut through the neighborhood. But not distant encroaching thunder. No, a vehicle, driving, from far off, getting closer. Rice stood up at the sound. Wiped her hands on her dress. Cautiously she stepped forward, stepped around a sunflower fashioned from a broken ceiling fan, stepped over spoon crocuses on butter knife stems, stepped under green glass bottles strung like cascading willow branches, stepped between tire planters and toilet planters sprouting busted chair legs and mops, stepped on cable moss, stepped past bushes of bedsprings blooming teacups, stepped through a junkyard garden overflowing with the flora of the remains that grew where plants could not. She opened the gate and stood on the sidewalk. Listening.

The convertible jettisoned up the street, swerved to a stop in front of her building. An astronaut climbed out of the driver’s side. He stood there for a moment, watching her from behind a black visor starred with dust. Then he removed his helmet. ♦