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The Bundles

Story by E.S. Bumas (Read author interview) September 23, 2014

art by Jason Pratt


The conversation flitted like a bird from branch to branch unaware when it had changed trees.


He was still rebounding from his last relationship, and I was Dennis Rodman in a dress.


I could really love you. If you were taller.

Me too. If you were richer.


She reads in bed with the book above her head as though she were watching the stars. Then she turns to the wall and reads as though examining the cover of an electric socket. Finally the book is below her as though she was reading the mattress, and I know she will soon be sleeping.

He didn’t need to wake me just to share this.


My head says it is over, stop it, end it, and my heart is like, Wait just a cotton-picking minute, there. Who transcended and left you the seat of the soul?


Ours began as a May-September relationship.

For a while it seemed it would last only four months.


I look at myself in the mirror to shave. My face is ibuprofin (generic), antidepressants (Prozac), contact lens solution (Bausch and Lomb), tampax (Tampax), and a barbell-shaped ear swab, one side of which is clean (Q-Tips).


Sorry, I forgot to close the medicine chest.

Time and the Bathwater

You can’t step into the same bathwater twice. I mean, some people can. She is from a less resource-laden country, where the hot water does not run free and so for years wanted to reuse bath water. First she would jump in after I’d gotten out.

Later, I would jump in at the same time.

And even now, she wants to use the water, if we’ve not made love in it, to clean the floors.

It’s his turn to clean the floors.


I told her not to be so irrationally angry for something that happened fifteen years ago, evoking the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations applies neither to murder nor to irrational anger.


Like pooping out a watermelon. Notice the age-appropriate language.


The worst part of having a baby is that all the clichés turn out to be true: a miracle of life, a life changer, and a burrito-wrapped bundle of joy.


For the worst part, I refer you to watermelon, above.


I’m surprised that anything that feels this good isn’t illegal.


Everything I understood about pop music turned out to be wrong. When the singer inevitably addresses Baby, spells Baby, pleads Baby, the reference is to a newborn b-a-b-y baby.


I never had much interest in self-expression, and so expressing milk might be as close as I come. I’m checking for teeth.


You got to hold it nearly ten months. Pass it here, Bogart.

Incredible, the First Word Spoken by a Person



We bought all the guide books for pregnancy, babies, and toddlers but didn’t get around to reading them until much later. As it turned out, we hadn’t done anything right.

Children prefer consistency.


I tell her not to worry about me, and remind her that I always land on my feet.

I remind him that, usually, he winds up with a broken ankle.


It could happen to either of us. It could already have happened easily, except of course, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.


A life of rent control and thrift shops and coupons and sales on already-reduced items should be followed by cremation and scattering to the winds or the water.

And us? What about us? We were for free.

The Age of Reason

I don’t want you to die because heaven will be full of scary dinosaurs.


Just look at yourself, you look like a vampire.

I don’t look like a vampire.

Look in the mirror.

I see myself. You can’t see a vampire in a mirror.

Oh yeah! And they don’t come out in photos.

I know, that’s why vampire movies never scared me. If they really were vampires, it’d be The Invisible Man. No Movie.


I don’t think that, if I were offered, I would accept immortality. I wouldn’t want to be such a burden on the social security system.


Leave the dishes to soak. We’ll clean up tomorrow. The champagne will be white wine.

About the Author

E.S. Bumas wrote The Price of Tea in China and has most recently published in The Daily Beast, Southwest Review, Hotel Amerika, and Fugue. He teaches at New Jersey City University.

About the Artist

Jason Pratt is a photographer in Pittsburgh, PA. This photo was used via Flickr Creative Commons. Find out more about Jason at jasonpratt.org

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Five

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