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Private Room

Story by M.E. Parker (Read author interview) September 15, 2008

Art by Robinson Accola

I will open the shade; it will help you relax. The snow out there has covered the grounds leaving no hints of earth, flakes the size of blanched moths fluttering through the trees. Closed school for the day, two if it holds. You will find the serenity appealing as I did when I fought the battle you now wage.

If you climb out of bed you’ll see them sledding on flattened boxes down Hospital Hill. From this fourth-story window you can watch them at work, a throng of snow-suited children stomping through a line of snow-angels now half-covered by fresh powder, a snow boulder expanding, worker ants rolling a frozen person into existence, lending it life with tokens from their world: a scarf, baseball cap, a discarded mobile phone for a mouth. If you are like me, and I know that you are, the snowman of your youth, the one behind that curtain of white, has peyote buttons for eyes and a hypodermic needle for a nose that juts from his melting face in your mind, a face that slowly drips into a puddle of mud beneath your feet.

You’re certain you are better off in here where the heater is on, within four walls that are softening from beige to white while you shiver and shake. I know that it’s hard, but today I’m you’re only friend, and despite what they say, you’re just an incurable like me, insatiable in your quest for completion. You’re not the type to let go of your past, if you are like me, and I know that you are. You relish the warmth, the numbness, the absence of mind in those places you could go without leaving your chair, before you came here, before they took your blanket away.

Take a full breath and stare at the sky, through the dead branches to the swirl of kids and snow to long before you failed as parent and before you gave your own parents enough reasons to stop caring, the last snow day when you looked up at the windows in this hospital to see blank faces gazing through the haze to you in your snowsuit playing on Hospital Hill, thankful you were out there and not in here, when you needed nothing but snow to get your heart going. If you ask them, they might let you outside; you’ve been here a while. And if not, I will try to open the window.

About the Author

M.E. Parker’s short fiction is published in numerous print publications and Internet haunts. JONESBRIDGE: Echoes of Hinterland (the first of Hinterland Trilogy) is forthcoming in 2015 from Diversion Books.

He has also endeavored to couple his love for the Great American road trip with his soft spot for the environment by developing a working (though unfortunately impractical) prototype of a non-electric, zero-emission vehicle.

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

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