SmokeLong Quarterly

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sweat trails

Story by Erin Vachon (Read author interview) September 19, 2022

@ SmokeLong

we couldn’t stop the stalker-comet’s approach, slippery in the sky. comets don’t sweat repercussions. they shatter on impact. we braced. the astro-psychiatrist diagnosed its trajectory from earth. compound: hot-cold narcissistic-rock formation. we live here, we said, go away, a message that nasa shot into space, binary code lodged like a needle into the comet’s side. stalker-comet remained undeterred. the astro-psychiatrist said, comets don’t sweat small scrapes, they smash atmospheric layers. they have issues with boundaries. visible in the daylight, there was no escape. we held onto our dogs, our mail deliverers, finally our own unreliable brains. that’s the comet, the astro-psychiatrist said, gaslighting your sense of personal history, manipulating your mind with its explosive chemistry. comets track your movements so casually, as if they haven’t sprinted across the universe after you. so many vacancies where worlds used to live, stalker-comets blazing across the sky to their finish line, worlds finished, and how do we stop them, they don’t submit to any astro-psychological testing, they destroy every planet with assessment facilities, we just don’t have enough data, all these sweatless, poreless comets, they’re so intelligent, and passionate, and beautiful, and perfect, and we all love comets more than any other rock in the universe, maybe we should reconsider shooting it out of the sky, gaze upon its hallucinogenic light trail, its chemical vapor, that’s not sweat, no don’t cover your eyes, it’s approaching, it won’t hurt us, comets swear to love us fully, our oceans rise to meet our fiery lover, behold the salty sweaty tears of reunion.


About the Author

Erin Vachon lives in Rhode Island and their work appears in SmokeLong Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, Brevity, CHEAP POP, Cream City Review, and more. They are Hybrid Editor for Longleaf Review and an alum of the Tin House Summer workshop. Erin earned their MA in English Literature and Comparative Literature from the University of Rhode Island, and you can find them on Twitter @erinjvachon.

This story appeared in A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue

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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.