SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Beauty of Estelle

Story by Darby Larson (Read author interview) June 15, 2004

Someone has picked out my eyeballs with a toothpick. Someone has chopped off my hands with an axe. Someone has stolen my nose. Someone has clamped my mouth shut and locked it with a combination. Someone has scraped the tastebuds off my tongue with a razor. Someone has poured cement in my ears. And now I can think.

I sit here now, earless, tastebudless, mouth clamped, no nose, no hands, no eyes. No distractions.

I sit here now. But what am I sitting on? Where was I when that someone came along? Nevermind.

Just me and my thoughts. I can think about yellow trees and green horses and flowers with people’s faces in them. It’s so clear.

I can think of a story. A whole story in my head. I see it. It is about a nice old woman who moved away from Rhode Island to be closer to her grandson in California. Her name is Estelle. The sun will feel warm in California. Oily surfers and poignant pina coladas.

Something just brushed against my leg. It felt like a feather. Or something fluffy. A teddy bear.

Estelle will move into an apartment and invite all the tenants that live near her to a dinner party. She will cook salmon. She will serve red wine.

Someone has grabbed both my arms. My feet are dragging on cement. Several teddy bears are running past me. I feel them tickling me. Why are they here?

Estelle will be a giving person. She will sense the world. She will let others into her life. She will not die alone.

It occurs to me now that I can not write the story of Estelle. No one will ever know the beauty of Estelle. She will forever reside in an apartment in my head, open to no one. The path to Estelle is treacherous. One must not attempt to walk there of one’s own accord. Visitors must be dragged by the arms through fields of running teddy bears.

About the Author

Darby Larson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Tyrant, No Colony, Wigleaf, Pequin, Night Train, Opium Magazine, etc. He edits the online journal ABJECTIVE.

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 Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Four

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