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Alexandria Bay, 1976

Story by Andrew Graham Martin (Read author interview) September 19, 2022

© Nadla

Owen is building a canoe in the living room. Mom has informed us that she’s giving up. So Owen has dragged a fallen birch in through the front door and is using Dad’s old hunting knife to hollow out the center. The shag carpet around us is accumulating layers of curlicue bark strips and brittle leaves. Nature crunches under my feet. Upstairs, I hear Mom still crying.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my freedom yet. I could pull Grandpa’s boat out of the shed and go floating away down the St. Lawrence River, stopping to collect a handful of soil from each of the Thousand Islands in succession as I go. I could tether my craft to a strong catfish and he could pull me along the gliding current. I could leave this cottage and go live in the forgiving silence of the woods. I could learn to mimic bird calls and speak the language of bears. I could train a raccoon to obey my commands. I could send him on a mission south, towards Charlottesville, to see if he could spot Dad’s old Ford F-250 Highboy. Or, better, I could send him on a mission into Mom’s room, where he could retrieve all the things she’s taken from me over the years. Bang Snaps and Playboys and that half-finished bottle of Maker’s Mark and the swiss army knife with a magnifying glass Dad gave me and the Boner Place street sign.

One thing we will not do with our newfound freedom is apologize. A catfish will become a steed and a racoon will burgle homes before we apologize. An entire forest will grow in this house before we apologize.

About the Author

Andrew Graham Martin is a writer living in Indianapolis, Indiana. His work has appeared in Shirley MagazineBright Flash Literary ReviewMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and elsewhere.

This story appeared in A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.