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Story by Lindsay Marianna Walker (Read author interview) June 26, 2009

art by J.W. Wang

It rained keys. For weeks it rained keys. We dug swimming pools in the shape of padlocks. We reinforced the umbrella webbing with sheet metal. We turned on our blenders to drown out the clinking of brass on shingles, brass on concrete, brass on windshields.

The neighbors left first. We watched them drag rolling suitcases across the layer of keys in the driveway. Later, you disappeared.

I waited at the window. I waited in the foyer. I grabbed your old motorcycle helmet from the garage. The snow shovel was still hanging next to the broken chainsaw on the wall where the clutter gets piled. I padded the shoulders of my sweater with old t-shirts I found in the black, plastic garbage bags from last summer’s rummage sale. I flipped down the helmet’s visor.

Keys pinged off the crown of my helmet and the blue face of the snow shovel. There was no sign of their letting up. I scraped keys into a pile by the street all afternoon. Heavy work. Sweat fogged the inside of my visor. Red welts popped up on the backs of my hands.

At dusk I scaled the waist-high pile of keys. I sat on the summit in my stuffed sweater and my stupid helmet. I wanted a vantage point. You weren’t coming back and I wanted to watch. I missed the air. I wanted to swim. I wanted a lock. I wanted to feel little gold teeth under my legs.

About the Author

Lindsay Marianna Walker is a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. Winner of the Center for Writers’s 2009 Joan Johnson Award for Fiction, she has served as Poetry Editor for the literary journal, Juked, since 2005. Her manuscript, The Josephine Letters, is currently a semi-finalist for the 2009 Walt Whitman Award. Her poetry has appeared recently, or is forthcoming, in West Branch, The Southeast Review, Gulf Stream, The Southern Quarterly, Specs, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Arsenic Lobster, The Jabberwock Review, and Bare Root Review. She has fiction published in Pindeldyboz and 971 Menu; her play “Boy Marries Hill” is anthologized in Gary Garrison’s guide to playwriting, A More Perfect Ten, from Focus Publishing.

About the Artist

J.W. Wang sleeps with his camera next to his head, no lie. He edits Juked and had grits for dinner, breakfast and lunch the past three meals.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Five

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