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SmokeLong Quarterly

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When You Look for Us, I’ll Be Here

Story by Adam Peterson (Read author interview) December 17, 2013

art by Luke Spooner

Honey, I can think of more reasons we shouldn’t leave this supermarket than reasons we should.

Honey, I know you think it’s inevitable that we go—that we’ve filled our cart, that your yogurt spoils, that my frozen burritos thaw, that your dog’s in the car, that the security guard started twirling her baton when I began construction on a house using boxes of instant mashed potatoes. But I need you to hear me, even if it’s the last thing you do for me, I need you to hear me because I’ve been considering this seriously since Aisle 2.

It was when I grabbed the apple juice.

You said we never drink apple juice.

That’s when I saw our empty refrigerator and the cupboards we barely risk filling anymore. Our stores are exhausted. We’re exhausted. It’s the opposite of an emergency which is still an emergency.

And it’s true, this thing about apple juice, but it’s also true that if you persist on leaving that we’ll live in a world where choosing a juice is even a consideration. Here, we’ll drink apple juice or we won’t. Here let’s toast with sparkling cider. Here, we’ll live as close as man has come to heaven.

That’s the best reason, but it’s not the only one.

Okay, maybe it’s the only one. But we won’t have to decide anything about juice or the dog’s heartworms or where we’re going. We aren’t going anywhere. That’s the point, as sharp as the corners on these tortilla chips.

Honey, have a tortilla chip.

Honey, some suns never set. Some suns are linear fluorescent lights so we won’t be kept from sleep by a darkened ceiling in which we can’t make out the future. Here, I won’t have to ask what it means that you bought so little food. Here is a box of your favorite childhood cereal. Here, I’ve used these cans of corn to build you a yoga studio.

I understand there are reasons to leave. The dog, the civil society, the security guard’s inconsiderate foot tapping. But consider what we risk: everything. We don’t know what’s going to happen when we’re home and all we’ve got are your organic bananas and my non-organic bananas and all of our possessions and all of our questions. There, it’s only a matter of time. There everything might go bad. There, there, please stop crying.

No one is saying we can pause life, just that maybe we can have a more beautiful one with round-the-clock access to the deli’s rotisserie chicken. Not that I can even see a clock from inside the plastic wrap solarium or that we’ll even need one.

Honey, here our days will not be days so they won’t be numbered.

Honey, hear me and we will never check out.

Honey, here, when you join me, we will be home.

About the Author

Adam Peterson is a Kathy Fish Fellow and writer-in-residence at SmokeLong Quarterly for 2013-14. He is the co-editor of The Cupboard, and the author of The Flasher, My Untimely Death, and, with Laura Eve Engel, [SPOILER ALERT]. His short fiction can be found in The Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, The Normal School, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Originally from Nebraska, he currently lives in Houston, Texas.

About the Artist

Luke Spooner a.k.a. “Carrion House” currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that peaks his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Two
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: December 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.