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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 5: October 2020
Micro-fiction: 367 words
By Stephen D. Gibson


—after Manuel Acevedo’s Rising *

The car broke down, so I sat in the dust. My suit was black, and my shirt was white, the same one I wore at the last wedding, the last funeral. Thick vines and wide leaves grew to the edge of the road. I was not afraid. Her house was distant with drawn shades over every window.

The second day, I decided to wait. She might be home any moment. One plant, lush, covered the miles of ground around her house. I slept in the car on my back, jacket loose over me, the cloth of the seat coarse burlap. Perhaps she would see me sleeping.

On the third day, the plant held me back. It grabbed at me, my ankles, my shoes, but she might be inside her house. The sunlight on the faded yellow brick smelled clean. Trapped within the house were dead flies, against the windowpane, fifteen or twenty of them. On her porch, I knocked seven times and waited. No one answered, not even her mother.

On the fourth day, I paged through the photographs in my wallet. My wallet was nothing, really, but photographs—each in a yellowing plastic sleeve—of us. The dust-covered tractor up the road had pale blue bird eggs encircled by a bowl of straw next to the carburetor. In the seat, I held the steering wheel, pretended I was her father, opening acres of ground to the sky as I plowed.

On the fifth day, I changed. I decided that old newspapers on a doorstep, no matter how piled, are not a pillow and that no concrete porch will be softer than the back seat of my automobile. I had to go because her father loomed over my mind like a mountain range. Embarrassed, I tried to start the car for hours and hours. It began to smell like rubber burning.

On the sixth day, I rested. I rested by walking home. In the darkness, as I hitchhiked, she picked me up. Not the woman whose house I lurked by, but my future wife, the orphan woman who loves me now.

On the seventh day, I wore the suit to my wedding.



* Publisher’s Note:

Rising (2002; inkjet print 2012) by Manuel Acevedo (born 1964) may be viewed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (link retrieved in September 2020):

Stephen D. Gibson
Issue 5, October 2020

studied writing at Purdue University and the University of Houston. His short fiction has appeared in The Southeast Review, Quarterly West, Story Quarterly, Western Humanities Review, The Citron Review, and elsewhere. It has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice and Best Microfiction once, and won an Associated Writing Programs Intro Award for Short Stories.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

With Wings and Trumpet, after Arturo Rodríguez’s Sin Título (from the series La Tempestad, 1998, oil on canvas) in Western Humanities Review (Summer 2016).

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