Gauze, A Medical Dressing, A Scrim
When they converted the basement into his room, Billy was too young to know any differently. He just wanted his own space, didn’t want to share it with his five older siblings anymore. Then when he was around ten, he stopped eating dinner with the rest of the family. His mother placed his dinner plate on the top stair every night. In exchange he only communicated by notes he’d send or receive by pulley-pails through the laundry drop.
A Medical Dressing
One time when Ethyl, the family dachshund, accidentally ventured downstairs, she was never seen again. Same for one sister, Darla, who thought she’d left a sweater atop the laundry machine. Disappeared. Eventually Billy was indistinguishable from any basement dweller, resembling the spider realm. Webs. Gossamer silver. Detecting vibrations, lurking toward eventual prey. The family nearly forgot he existed.
Then one day while folding laundry, his mother noticed a note and she decided to read it aloud to the rest of the children at dinner that night: Here is your stormy day, the one with pressing clouds and chilling breeze. Here is your way you fall in step, synchronize laughs and moderate beliefs, acclimatize moods and medications. Here, then your last vestige of blue sky and fortitude. A mélange of mercurial designations. Bastion of sailboats emptying out horizons.
Robert Vaughan is an award-winning author, playwright, and teacher. His books include Microtones (Cervena Barva, 2012), Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps, 2013), Addicts & Basements (CCM, 2014), RIFT (Unknown Press, 2015), Funhouse (Unknown Press, 2016), and Askew (Cowboy Jamboree, 2022). He was twice the runner-up for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction. His work has been widely anthologized, including the New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (W.W. Norton, 2018) and Best Small Fictions 2016 and 2019 (Sonder Press), His plays have been produced in S.F., N.Y.C., and Milwaukee. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Bending Genres. www.robert-vaughan.com
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