SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page


Story by Donna D. Vitucci (Read author interview) September 15, 2008

Art by Robinson Accola

Wet October seeped through the seat of my jeans from the sodden log where I sat a quarter mile in woods, awaiting fire and liquor. Kit and Sally were bringing Match-Lite, kindling, and cigs with their pocket lighters; Keith and Brad charged with supplying the drink. I spread the driest leaves I could uncover in a circle where we’d lay the fire. At sixteen, I looked to siphon power from most every person I cared about. What I could touch, I figured I could have. I was permanently wet, often pursued, sometimes caught, always left wanting. Desire twisted me inside a damp wood, caught me up the way fires do even the greenest twigs, how they smolder, how fire spreads, turns, switches back, and re-burns.

The boys I loved unraveled me. They worked dirt under my fingernails and I allowed it. In the earth they gave me I tasted decay, in their old cars I licked crumbs at the mouth of the seat belt. They dipped me to the world, dangled it only inches from my eyes so I might more closely examine the greasy pore, the inflamed follicle, the beetle’s antennae, mold in its finest bloom, a neck crease, an ear swirl, a mighty cock.

With a lit cigarette I waited, then touched the dying filter to the dry circle I’d set, watched it eat and make lace of the leaves. My hands smelled of tobacco and fire. If someone didn’t come soon I felt I’d fly up to the trees. No magic, and not of my own accord, simply smoke in my blood I barely kept a lid on. The twin inside me was no green thing, she was seasoned wood and prime for burning. Was she who set the blaze, but me who spread my legs. Kit and Sally must have been dallying out of sight the way game-players do, affording me time with both boys. After, on our backs like stuck beetles, like satisfied cats, we—the two parts of me— each took confession and chewed it for food, swallowed it down with whiskey that Keith and Brad had swiped from a house along the route.

Giving the boys my back, I pulled into my clothes, hunched, not embarrassed just chilled. Anyway, they were already on to their next thing, smoking cigarettes, testing the dark with catcalls. Maybe in the future I’d learn, change, slow up, care more, but while they preened and peacocked with the silly, prettified girls who’d arrived, piercing the night with perfume and flashlights, I receded. Quiet was a cover, and sleep smelled of loam, where loam married star-struck my restless, pungent self. I gulped at my breath and then spent it on a cigarette. As one ember, I moved through the forest, along the back road berm, to a newly poured sidewalk, and across our lawn begging to be mowed.

About the Author

Donna D. Vitucci helps raise funds for local nonprofits, while her head and heart are engaged in the lives of the characters mounting a coup in her head. Her stories can be found in dozens of print and online journals. Recent work appears, or is forthcoming, in Salt River Review, Front Porch Journal, The Whitefish Review, Diner, Storyglossia, Cezanne’s Carrot, Boston Literary Magazine, Insolent Rudder, and Another Chicago Magazine.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

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

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

High Intensity Interval Training for Flash Writers with Ingrid Jendrzejewski

Book Now!

Bring a pen, lots of paper, and your water bottle: this is a high-intensity guided-writing work-out designed to kickstart creativity, and push you into new territory, and exercise flash muscles you didn’t even know you had.

Maybe you’re stuck in a story and looking for a way to proceed.  Maybe you’re looking to generate new ideas.  Maybe your inner editor is holding you back.  Maybe you’re in a rut or have writers’ block or are just wanting to shake things up a bit.  This session is designed to tackle all these issues and help you level up your flash fitness.  Writers of all backgrounds and experience levels warmly welcome; come along, roll up your sleeves, and trust the process.