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First Night

Story by Ric Jahna (Read author interview) June 15, 2007

Aren’t you a little old to be flying in your dreams is what she asks me, but teasing, in the dark and in bed, this after telling me about her nightmares of falling, how she wakes each time before hitting the ground but worries what might happen if she didn’t—wake—and I explain that it isn’t exactly flying with me so much as something like gliding on currents of air, using your hands as a sort of wind-rudder, the same way you might when your arm hangs out a car window and you make those sloping surges, first up, then leveling off, and finally angling sharp downward, and eventually settling into a kind of unbroken serpentine rhythm, and yet it is not as freeing—my dream flight—perhaps, as it might sound because as often as not there is no controlling those skyward bursts that send me up and up, the earth retreating away in awful recession, which—while not falling—is terrifying in its own way.

That, and also alligators, I want to say, one or two nights a week at least, usually back at the lake behind my grandmother’s house, everywhere and aggressive, their massive heads half-submerged and waiting so that just to dip a toe is at your peril, but that would be too much for now, an over-share I decide, as we lie there in the cool sheets, her voice getting softer, her responses more lazy-slowed, plenty of time for deep-zoo madness, later, when things are so entrenched that leaving is more complicated.

About the Author

Ric Jahna’s fiction has appeared in Mid-American Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Gowanus, and is forthcoming in Oyster Boy Review and Eclipse. His short story, “Independence Day, 1983,” was the recipient of an AWP Intro Award in 2004. Recently, his short story collection, True Kin, won the Ohio State University Press award for short fiction. The book will be published next spring. He holds an M.A. in literature and an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. He is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

This story appeared in Issue Seventeen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventeen

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