SmokeLong Quarterly

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Sleepless #7

Story by Joe Kapitan (Read author interview) October 3, 2011

art by Maggie Burgan

The children I could have had are assembled again, stacked like kindling in my bedroom closet, fidgeting, so anxious to talk, like they are every year at this time, but they’ve gotten more persistent of late and I’ve had to resort to new tactics, leaving plates of fresh excuses for them to fight over, but even that isn’t working anymore, and look, now they’ve built a little dollhouse from the dense thicket of my bullshit and they’ve set it on fire and the flames are climbing, burning my advanced degrees and my power suits and my pick-up shirts, and how their little faces shine like hungry mirrors aimed backwards, and one looks like the Italian girl from college, the one whose heart and teeth were too big, and another the red-haired divorcee from work who set free two words for every hundred she held molded inside her mouth, and so many others who all became lighthouses to me, telegraphing their flaws across restaurant tables, here lie no ports, just lipstick reefs, and see how the flames are spreading and My God they’re on fire now too!, the children!, and I struggle out of bed to save them but the sea is too deep and it’s too late, their faces have melted down to empty canvas and now they can’t belong to anyone and I am another year older and I will never know what it means to be the last one out of a burning house.

About the Author

Joe Kapitan is a full-time architect from Cleveland, Ohio, where the sun doesn’t shine from November to April, giving him ample time to write pale and cranky short fiction.

About the Artist

Maggie Burgan is a freelance graphic designer living in Hudson, Ohio.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Three

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