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Story by Miriam N. Kotzin (Read author interview) August 15, 2004

Chrissie was supposed to be holding the ladder steady while I climbed. Instead she stood by its side and wrapped her arms around it in a big hug. My dirty sneakers were about her eye level when she sneezed with the kind of whole body involvement she has with one of her better orgasms.

“Sorry,” she said, “Sorry, sorry, sorry.” She wiped the snot onto her bare arm up near her shoulder, and the ladder shuddered again.

The open can of white paint sat on the grass. I’d tucked the paint brush and scraper into my belt for this first trip.

“It’s OK, Kitten,” I said, “I can come down. The windows can wait.” The pear tree was in full bloom, a mass of pollen-spewing blossoms. I stayed where I was.

“I’ll be OK,” she said.

“Yeah.” I said, “It’s not you I’m worried about.”

She looked up at me, her eye-lids swollen and pink, her nose still running. “I said I was sorry,” she said. Her voice had a kind of squeak to it.

I watched a big fat fly circle the ladder, spiraling down from over my head, down towards Chrissie’s arm.

“Look. You know what I mean,” I said.

Her only answer was to rub her nose on her shoulder again. Her blunt fingers curled around the wooden ladder. In the sunlight a trail of snot gleamed on her pale freckled arm like the path of a slug on a leaf. If I didn’t think about it too long, it was sort of pretty.

About the Author

Miriam N. Kotzin teaches literature and creative writing at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. She directs the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing, and she is the advisor to Maya, the student literary magazine. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared and are forthcoming in many print and online publications including Boulevard, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Small Spiral Notebook, Segue, FriGG, Flashquake, EdificeWRECKED!, Three Candles, Drexel Online Journal, Slow Trains and Xaxx.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

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