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SmokeLong Quarterly

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True Identity

Story by Kevin Sampsell (Read author interview) September 15, 2008

Art by Hayley Barker

He finally got a good night’s sleep, even though it was only three hours. When he awoke he felt as if God had opened him like an envelope and gently stuffed ten or twenty hours of billowy rest into him.

He took a shower, got dressed in clean clothes, and walked to the bus. He did not jog nervously to the stop like usual. On the bus, he spotted an empty space at the front and squeezed in to sit. He pulled a small book out of his pocket and started to read. More people got on the bus and he looked at their shoes, their sandles, their feet. He looked at all the different toes of the women and imagined what their face looked like. He kept himself from looking up, even though he wanted to.

He had to show discipline.

He realized he had not turned a page in his book for a good five minutes and he wondered if those around him realized he was faking it. He was a terrible actor pretending to be a reader on a bus. He was a pervert torturing himself.

He started to feel tired again. On the surface of his body he still felt fine. But somewhere between his skin and his deeper parts, he felt a dizzy sadness. Two by two, he watched the feet move away from him.

About the Author

Kevin Sampsell is the author of the short story collections, Beautiful Blemish (Word Riot Press) and Creamy Bullets (Chiasmus Press) and the editor of the anthologies, The Insomniac Reader (Manic D Press) and the forthcoming Portland Noir (Akashic, 2009). He is also the publisher of Future Tense Books (www.futuretensebooks.com, a micropress in Portland, Oregon. Visit him online at myspace.com/futuretensebooks.

About the Artist

Hayley Barker’s work can be found online at www.hayleybarker.com

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Two
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From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.