SmokeLong Quarterly

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Story by Ethel Rohan (Read author interview) March 29, 2011

art by Cooper Renner

He notices first that her left eye is higher in her head than her right eye. He thought only breasts were asymmetrical. Under her sweater, he’s sure her breasts are two hand-sized snowballs. He hasn’t made snowballs, hasn’t thrown snowballs, since he was a boy, since he hit his father full in the face. His father’s face bruised and blossomed purple, a stone inside the snowball. Her face is lovely, even with the funny eyes. Her eyes look back into his. He thinks he can hear the breath leave her nostrils. She waits for him to pay, with a check or cash or credit card, debit card too. She spells it out for him like he’s a spastic. His neighbor was a retard. He also fired snowballs at his retard neighbor, he and the other boys. When they laughed, that neighbor boy must have heard thunder, must have seen lightning in the snow. Her left eye climbs higher in her head, cocked now. He pulls bills from his jean pocket, brushes his hardness. She counts out his coin change onto the black conveyor belt. The coins wink and smell of dirty. He holds out his hand, waits for her to put the change into his palm. Her hand hovers over his and she drops the coins, plink, plink, plink, pills into water. Have you seen the moon tonight, he asks. She asks if he’d like help outside. It’s pink, he says, sincere as air. Pink? She looks at him like he’s disgusting. She looks at him like their retard neighbor did. She looks at him like his father did.

About the Author

Raised in Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco. Her work has or will appear in Guernica, Gargoyle, Potomac Review, Los Angeles Review, and Southeast Review Online, among many others. She is the author of the story collections, Cut Through the Bone (Dark Sky Books), long-listed as a 2010 notable collection by The Story Prize, and Hard to Say (PANK 2011). She blogs at ethelrohan.com.

About the Artist

Cooper Renner’s art and photography have appeared in/on chapbooks from Bannock Street, Mud Luscious, Thunderclap and Gold Wake, and in such magazines as Blip, Upstairs at Duroc and Grey Sparrow. New York Tyrant, Unsaid and The Anemone Sidecar have recently published his fiction and poetry.


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